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Girls Celebrate the Fun of Fitness with Brandi Chastain

Castro Elementary girl becomes 10,000th member of the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative.

On Friday afternoon at about 80 girls felt good. Real good.

Brandi Chastain, two-time Olympic gold medallist with the U.S. Women's National Soccer team and co-founder of the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI), visited the BAWSI Girls program at Castro and announced that one of the girls would be the organization's 10,000th—a welcomed accomplishment in the effort to introduce exercise and fitness to young girls.

"I couldn't be more excited for these girls than I am for myself, because this is a commitment to themselves as it is for their community," said Chastain. "I'm very proud."

The 10,000th girl named in the program was Jocelyn Rosa, 9, a third-grader at the school.

The BAWSI program at Castro, one of 18 in the Bay Area and the second in Mountain View—the other one is at —began three years ago and works with girls in second to fifth grades. The girls try different sports and activities, and aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. They track their achievements in journals.

Once the girls reach the fifth grade, they can apply and interview to be junior coaches—which supports BAWSI's mission to teach and develop leadership skills in the girls. To do the real coaching, Susan Armenta, director of programs, reaches out to local high schools and colleges to recruit volunteers.

"We have a lot of relationships with local coaches at schools and we do our best within our organization to promote their teams," Armenta said. "We also try to highlight women athletes and we ask that they give back."

The Girls Lacrosse team, under head coach, Jessica Paige, volunteers every Friday at Castro as part of its team's community service project.

"We don't see too many women sports on TV or in media and we want them [the volunteers] to see our commitment," said Armenta. "They see the fun we have with the girls, and once they see what we do, they are hooked."

At Castro, BAWSI also runs an adult program called "Salud Por Vida" aimed at the adult women in the community. About 25 moms and teachers participate.

"We get moms who wouldn't usually be out of the house and we have them outside dancing and exercising," Armenta said, and added that the program, in addition to being free, offers child care and is on school grounds. "There is no excuse."

Maya Popovic found out about the BAWSI program for adults through her daughter, a participant at Castro. 

"If nobody else gets you to exercise, this gets you exercising with other people," Popovic said. "The teachers are well-trained, and it's stimulating."

There's no question that everyone inside Castro's gym Friday left a bit more stimulated and excited about girls in sports.

"I like being part of BAWSI," said third-grader Yubis Martinez, 8. "It rocks!"

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