Earlier this week, the 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara was filled with over 50 Bay Area female athletes interested in learning how sports can have a positive influence in all aspects of their lives.
The 49ers and the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI) teamed up again to co-host the third annual T.H.I.N.K Gold event for high school female athletes. The T.H.I.N.K. Gold title represents the event's objectives of imparting tips about "Training, Health, Inspiration, Nutrition, and Knowledge" for success in athletics and life.
And as part of the NFL's PLAY 60 Campaign, the 49ers and BAWSI are uniting to further encourage local female youth to participate in outdoor recreational sports activities in a healthy and successful manner.
The morning kicked off with breakfast, opening remarks by 49ers Director of Community Relations and the 49ers Foundation, Joanne Pasternack, as well as a warm-up ZUMBA session. The warm-up, hosted by nationally ranked speed walker and ZUMBA instructor Susan Armenta, was intended to get the guest's blood flowing for the day and for them to interact with one another on the 49ers practice field.
Following the ZUMBA session, the ladies broke into groups and created team names in a session led by Jenna and Mara York, daughters of team owners Denise and John York. Next, they had the opportunity to take part in two break-out sessions.
The first session led by Tina Syer from Positive Coaching Alliance focused on the triple-impact competitor, giving the student athletes sports psychology-based tools to help them better themselves, their teammates and the game as a whole. The second session was led by Stanford Hospital & Clinic's Dr. Allison Darcy, who discussed proper nutrition and healthy living while disproving some commonly accepted food myths.
Eager to get back out on the field, the youth headed out to the turf again where they were greeted by 49ers head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama, assistant strength and conditioning coach Kevin Tolbert and Olympic soccer player and BAWSI Co-Founder Brandi Chastain.
Chastain has been a part of this event for all three years and understands how important it is for the young athletes.
"My favorite part is being out here with the coaches and listening to them," she said. "I get inspired every time I'm around a group of people, being in a team is really important. I think that's why BAWSI and T.H.I.N.K. Gold can really make a difference because it gives the support that these young girls need, they recognize that others care about what they're doing and then I think they want to put out their best foot and do what's right for them and for their community."
Following the 50-minute workout session, Chastain and 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman each spoke to the youth about the importance of balance and being successful in all aspects of one's life.
"Bottom line is that you have to balance your time, time management, and you have to be a self motivated individual in order to have success, whatever you do in life, those are the things I tried to emphasize in there," Rathman said.
A man with three daughters himself, Rathman knows the importance of a female sports conference.
"It gives them some direction," he said. "They come in here and are able to see those five Super Bowl trophies out front and what it took to get those Super Bowl trophies, you have to have passion for what you do and you have to be consistent. It doesn't matter if you're in sports, the working world, or a student; it comes down to the same thing."
The athletes were next treated to a luncheon in the 49ers café with 49ers alumnus Guy McIntyre and Olympic female athletes Anne Cribbs, Barbra Higgins Arana, Kimberly Carlisle, Marilyn King, Nancy Ditz and Sara Lowe.
The last indoor session included a tour of the weight room and medical facilities as well as a Q&A session with 49ers Director of Football Operations and Sports Medicine Jeff Ferguson.
The athletes were taught about the importance of proper injury prevention and the opportunity to ask any questions related to injuries. They also learned how to stretch certain parts of their bodies and the important classes to take to get into the field of sports medicine.
For the last workout session of the day, everyone headed back out to the field to give the ladies the chance to run through non-contact football drills led by 49ers Youth Football Coordinator, Jared Muela.
The day concluded with a trivia game and prizes including a variety of signed 49ers and Olympic memorabilia, sports gear provided by The Cutting Edge and Coastside Academy of Fencing and a grand-prize of a 49ers branded Flip video camera.
Each participant also walked away with two tickets to an upcoming 49ers game, written materials, an event shirt, healthy food and the opportunity to take photos and interact with 49ers alumni and other elite female athletes.
Besides the tangible give-a-ways the youth also left the 49ers facility with tips on nutrition and ways to stay in shape for their individual sports and, according to one student athlete, a day she'll never forget.
"This is amazing. This is once in a lifetime," said Candace, a student athlete from San Mateo High School. "[My favorite part was] getting to know people and having a lot of energy, being myself, and having a lot of fun."
Attendees of the T.H.I.N.K. Gold included high school-age, female student athletes who applied to participate. Participating schools included Crystal Springs, East Palo Alto Academy, East Side College Prep, Harker, Irvington, Will C. Wood, Moreau, Mountain View, San Lorenzo Valley, San Mateo and South San Francisco.
As part of the 49ers long-standing commitment to encourage youth to participate in outdoor activities and sports in a healthy manner, the team supports the NFL's Play 60 Campaign with events such as T.H.I.N.K Gold and other programs for youth throughout the year.