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East Bay Sports of Entry

Local organizations are nurturing the next generation of star athletes.


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Through September, kids can practice with the A’s in East Bay parks. Photo courtesy of the Oakland Athletics.

Play Ball!

The headlines always seem to focus on a potential new ballpark, but behind the scenes, the A’s are working hard to sink their baseball roots deeper into the East Bay—and groom future generations of A’s fans in the process.

This year, for example, the organization debuted the Future A’s program, which started off by donating 15,000 jerseys to more than 1,000 youth teams in 48 different leagues (allowing the leagues to spend their money on other things, such as field rentals and equipment). The Future A’s also invites youngsters and coaches to the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland for clinics and skill development, and gives teams a chance to get on the field with the real A’s during the national anthem.

And if you happen to see a group playing baseball and softball at a local park, that might be part of the A’s Play Ball initiative. Each week during Major League Baseball season, the organization picks an East Bay park and offers skills workshops and pickup-style games, opening even more eyes to the fun of playing and watching the sport.

After all, it wouldn’t do much good to build a shiny new ballpark if there weren’t A’s fans eager to fill it. athletics.com/community.

 

The Sharks’ success last season inspired local youth to play hockey. Shutterstock.

Ice, Ice, Baby

To raise the Stanley Cup, you have to raise hockey players—which is just what the San Jose Sharks are doing. And they start early.

The organization’s Little Sharks initiative is teaching kids hockey fundamentals all over Northern California, including Learn to Play programs for 5- to 9-year-olds at the Oakland Ice Center and Livermore’s Tri-Valley Ice Center. There are also leagues for older boys and girls, with opportunities for high schools to form teams in Sharks-affiliated leagues.

Even without the Sharks’ support, hockey is gaining traction in the East Bay. Dublin Iceland runs a club program and a high school league (in the spring) that has attracted teams from several local high schools. Most teams are coed, and skill levels range from novice to competitive, but the main idea is to play hockey and have fun.

And, maybe someday, find a way to the NHL. nhl.com/sharks/community, dubliniceland.com.

 

Bay Area teens use soccer to bond with girls in Paraguay. Photo by Pamela Jacobsen.

Getting a Leg Up

This summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup—and the United States national team’s spectacular win—put female soccer players in the spotlight. But the game still has a long way to go, especially in countries that aren’t committed to girls’ sports.

In Paraguay, though, the Livermore-based nonprofit Girls Soccer Worldwide is sowing the seeds by sending Bay Area high school players, both current and former, to the remote village of Coronel Bogado each year. Cofounders Pamela Jacobsen and Walter Pratte have made the trip for the past four years, and this November will bring 16 female high school athletes and 14 adults to help nurture girls’ soccer.

Of course, giving young women an opportunity to play soccer is part of a bigger effort. Studies show that sports can benefit girls’ mental and physical health and lead to
improved self-esteem.

“What we try to do,” Jacobsen says, “is empower the voices of women.” girlssoccer​worldwide.org.

 

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