Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology
Co-Director, Center for Sport & Social Justice
Growing up in Canada, I was always involved in sports; playing pick up games of street hockey or baseball with my brother and the neighborhood boys, trying out gymnastics (very short-lived), playing on an indoor lacrosse team, and numerous years of competitive tennis at the national level. In many of these sporting environments, I was aware that I was routinely one of only a few girls, or the only girl, participating. These sporting experiences growing up undoubtedly influenced my interest in learning more about sport environments as gendered spaces, and specifically, the barriers that girls encounter that shape their sport and physical activity participation. I believe we need to ask the questions “What types of spaces are being created and whose space is it – who is in and who is out?” There is such a vast array of benefits that can be attained through being physically active, and I look forward to working with the Center in helping to create change in making physical activity and sport environments more inclusive.
Professor, Department of Kinesiology
Co-Director, Center for Sport & Social Justice
My involvement with the Center for Sport and Social Justice reflects a lifelong engagement with physical activity and sport, in both formal and informal contexts. These experiences as a youth in my neighborhood, as a competitive athlete, and as a traveler for many years have been very meaningful. As an academic, I draw upon this personal perspective to help youths and adults engage with sport and physical activity in beneficial ways. This involves highlighting key barriers that serve to marginalize and exclude people. I also question prevailing ideologies that portray many people simply as "unfit", "unhealthy", and "at risk." From a social justice perspective, I suggest that many people actually take part in physical activity and sport cultures. These cultures reflect spaces that are unique and highly innovative. I hope that CSSJ can frame a dialogue that challenges the reductive and restrictive ways that society views sport and physical activity. Can we be more open to re-envisioning human movement and what "counts" as being healthy and active?
Professor, Department of Kinesiology
Creating beauty and joy in our world is a guiding principle for me. I have found physical activity as a primary source to do this. As a young person this joy often took form through exploring my neighborhood and playing informal games with friends. As I moved into formal organized sport, I often felt the beauty of physical activity was diminished by the militaristic and bureaucratic ethos. When I tried to bring humor or lightness to these formal settings, I was often dismissed as “not serious” or “un-coachable.” My orientation toward physical activity has led me to do research on informal sports, such as skateboarding and surfing, as potential democratic and artistic sites; spaces where self-expression, style, and fairness matter.
Maria J. Veri
Professor, Department of Kinesiology San Francisco State University
As a kid, school and sports were salvation for me. I grew up playing a number of different sports in neighborhood backyards and driveways – as well as organized sports at school and in the community – and thanks to the influence of my dad, was an avid fan of the New York Yankees. Sports were fun and gave me a way to interact with peers and adults in my community, helped me become known by teachers, and buoyed my confidence personally and socially. It was in high school when I first became aware of systemic gender-based discrimination in sport. I was upset about the inferior conditions and lack of resources for the girls’ sports teams. As a three-sport athlete and reporter for the school newspaper, I notified the athletic director of my intent to publish a story about those inequities during my senior year. He asked me to hold off, promising that changes would be made, and then offered me a softball equipment catalogue so I could pick out new catcher’s gear. When I returned to visit after my freshman year of college, I ran into the athletic director at a girls’ basketball game and he made it a point to tell me about the improvements that had been made to the girls’ softball field. That early experience influenced my work as an academic and kinesiology educator. I strive to call attention to race, gender, and power dynamics when I teach and write about the culture of sport. My goal for my students is to ensure that sport becomes a more inclusive, socially just cultural space. I’m thrilled to be working with an organization that so closely aligns with those values and is committed to creating and maintaining social justice-oriented community sport
Professor, Department of Sociology & Social Services
From 4th grade school through high school, I was always playing an adult-organized sport, sometimes two. Much of my spare time was spent playing sports with neighborhood kids - street football was our favorite. In high school I read books like Dave Meggyesy’s Out of their League and Connie Hawkins’ autobiography Foul. They gave me models of athletes who separated the joy, accomplishment, and cooperative competition of sport from the sometimes misguided goals, ideals, and practices of the people running sport systems. In college I ran track (when I wasn’t injured) and was exposed to more of the underbelly of sport, like steroid use and insecure coaches who treated athletes as disposable. I especially recall the psychic pain of two football players who opened up about how they were shunned after career-ending injuries. Being part of CSSJ has helped me focus on what we can do to expand opportunities for youth of all backgrounds to play sports and be physically active in ways that support their development.
Sports Relationship Coach, CoachingKapwa Sports Consultants LLC
My sports story includes arcs as an athlete, coach, administrator, parent, mentor, and fan. I was 9 years old, trying to make friends at a new school, when volleyball found me. As a teen, I created my own baseball score cards so I could score games on television or the radio. In high school, I wrote a sports page column titled “Off The Bench”. I have lived by Ocean Beach in San Francisco most of my life, yet I learned to swim as a 33 year-old returning-to-college student, to earn my kinesiology degree. I claim that I am the shortest person to officiate a California state basketball championship game (2006) as part of the first all-women basketball officiating crew to work a CIF high school state championship.
My relationship with sports helps me (re)connect to myself, my community, and to the broader world. I believe sports are the most fun pathways to reimagine, practice and surrender ourselves to the ways of racial justice, ethnic studies, decolonization, and community building. Sports jobs supported me - financially and spiritually - when I was a single parent. I continue to make a daily ritual of crafting and emerging identity through deepening relationships with people and energies. Now, with over 30 years of rooting lineage threads in all levels of educational sports, I know that everyone has a relationship with sports, and our collective expression bares itself on the playing fields, courts, and gyms - oftentimes to our dehumanization, and sometimes to our self-actualization. I am grateful to CSSJ for affording me this space to work with, work towards, and work in kapwa for our collective liberation. Let’s play! #kapwaforever
Student Representative, Undergraduate in Department of Kinesiology
I have always experienced my greatest sense of freedom when I’m in motion. Riding bikes, scooters, skateboards– anything with wheels– never failed to put a smile on my face as a kid, and still doesn’t disappoint to this day. I was privileged to grow up with access to many sports and recreational hobbies. Movement has served as a source of joy and a positive coping mechanism throughout my life. I love the microcosm that sports and physical activity creates– a little universe where one can safely learn to work through problems, develop as a person, connect with others, and find respite from everyday stressors. I am inspired by this aspect of physical movement as it relates to mental health and holistic well-being. Everyone deserves access to movement, and all it has to offer; I am passionate about creating a world where accessibility is a reality. Living in our society, built upon racism, and a myriad of oppressive systems, organizations like the CSSJ are necessary institutions to advocate for equity and inclusivity as it relates to sport, physical activity, and movement. I’m grateful to be a part of a team working toward creating awareness and change–so that everyone can tap into their own body as a resource for healing, growth and joy, as well as finding community with others.
Student Representative, Undergraduate in Department of KinesiologyMovement has always been part of my life. Growing up I danced and played softball. I'm a retired derby skater, longtime coach, trainer, current park quad skater and avid backpacker. Long aware of the sexist nature of sport, I've also experienced how access, and socioeconomic and disability statuses can be limiting factors, or complete barriers. Competing in a world-wide women’s league gave me a glimpse into how sport varied from place to place, and how meanings varied greatly for participants. I saw gender could be treated differently than in mainstream sports but how women still hit walls looking for coverage, resources and recognition. I value my diverse community of friends, family and classmates and seek to learn and further dialogues around access, equality and human rights in the microcosm of sport.
Through my work with the CSSJ I hope to expand my understanding on social justice issues in both the community and in sports. I also hope to share this knowledge with students at CSUEB. I grew up playing soccer and my involvement has had a major impact on how I view sports. It has played a role in me wanting to learn more about how sports impact my community and society as a whole. Through research I hope to expand my understanding on what social justice challenges sports face and what I can do to help. The CSSJ focuses in on these particular areas by focusing in on what can be done to better sports for all and how impactful sports are.
My desire for inclusivity within a physical activity context has become a reality. Skate Like a Girl and Soccer Without Borders are standout programs within the Bay Area that epitomize what sport is truly about - connection, unity, and expression. I was a former collegiate runner and also a soccer player, so competition has never been something I have shied away from. I now realize the beauty in a team that inspires not only you, but those around you. Sport goes beyond competition - it brings together different minds and cultures to find commonality in character and values. It also instills a lifelong student mentality. The CSSJ has allowed me to strive for inclusivity within a sport and workspace as I look towards graduation and what is beyond.