The day began on a high note when BAWSI founder and Olympic and World Cup soccer star Brandi Chastain addressed the group of young women. She was followed by 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who spoke to the female athletes about what it means to be a true team player.
“What I loved about Coach Harbaugh’s speech is that he didn’t look at these girls today and think, ‘oh, they’re girls’ and talk down to them,” Chastain said. “He talked to them like they were his football players and he used analogies that he would use with his football players. His overall simple message was about being tough and about working hard and about having an opportunity to impact the people around you with a good attitude. Those are really good messages for him to give the girls. He encouraged them to go out there and have fun with it and get all that you can out of every single opportunity to compete.”
After Harbaugh’s speech, the ladies had the opportunity to hear Tina Syre from the Positive Coaching Alliance speak on the importance of becoming a triple impact competitor through personal mastery (making oneself better), leadership (making one’s teammates better) and honoring the game (making the game better). Then, it was out to the field to practice like the pros.
“The girls had the opportunity to take the field for some non-contact football drills,” said Youth Football Manager Jared Muela. “We taught everybody how to tackle, play running back, quarterback and wide receiver. Basically, the goal was to show the common thread between all sports through crossover training.”
After the drills, the participants met with head athletic trainer and 49ers Vice President of Football Operations and Sports Medicine Jeff Ferguson to discuss the vital importance of injury prevention and treatment.
“One of the highlights of the day is meeting with Ferguson because, as an athlete, if you play long enough, you’re going to get an injury,” Muela said. “So, it’s important to learn how to come back from it not only physically, but also mentally. Jeff also provided some terrific advice to ladies who were interested in pursuing careers in athletic training.”
After the Q&A session with Jeff Ferguson, the young athletes took the field again. This time, with 49ers head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama and his staff, where they learned what the 49ers go through on an everyday basis.
“Today they get to experience what would be a typical speed day for the team,” said Muela. “They’re going through a dynamic warm up and some first-step acceleration. They’ll also do some expulsion work. For a lot of the girls who don’t participate in team sports, or have this kind of level of training, it’s really a culture shock for them in the beginning because our coaches are energetic, loud, fired up and enthusiastic, and it takes a little bit to see them adjust. But, you can tell by the end of the session they are dialed in and they’re on board and having a good time. They are truly getting some top-notch training and the opportunity to see what the pros do.”
After the training session, it was time to refuel with lunch in the 49ers Café. The ladies were joined by elite female athletes including Brenda Villa – a four time Olympic medalist in water polo, who brought her most recent medal – a gold from London – to share with the attendees, and Cori Evans (track and football), Lindsey Jones (soccer), Nji Nnamani (volleyball), Samantha Salvia (ultimate Frisbee and Rhodes Scholar), Taylor Lydon (basketball), Vicki Galindo (softball, Olympic silver medalist) and Drea Woliczko (basketball). The lively conversations were very impactful on the young athletes as well as the mentors.
Following lunch, the girls enjoyed a Jamba Juice break sponsored in part by 49ers TE