The heartfelt smiles, pats on the back, high-fives, and congratulatory hugs were everywhere as I observed the proud, adoring fathers and their happy and energetic daughters in the “Dads and Daughters Football Camp” action at the SAP Performance Facility, adjacent to the new, state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, recently named the “Sports Facility of the Year” by Sports Business Journal.
The friendly competition, which included football-related activities, a question and answer session, and a barbecue with San Francisco 49ers coaches, alumni, current players, as well as executives and their daughters, was orchestrated and hosted by the San Francisco 49ers Foundation in partnership with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI), who provided more than 50 fathers and father-figures with the opportunity to spend quality time with their daughters as part of the 49ers’ commitment to the NFL’s PLAY 60 Campaign, encouraging kids to “get out and play … 60 minutes a day.”
“The Dads and Daughters Football Camp aligns with the 49ers Foundation’s mission to keep kids ‘Safe, On Track, and In School,’” says Director of Community Relations for the 49ers and Executive Director of the 49ers Foundation, Joanne Pasternack. “By hosting programs aimed at encouraging young women to maximize their full potential in athletics, academics and the community, the Foundation is helping to develop the next generation of leaders.”
Having his 5-year old daughter Leilani on his Dads and Daughters team allowed Eric Reid, safety on the San Francisco 49ers team, an opportunity to spend his day off with her. “I would not want to do it any other way. It is more than just a bonding for an afternoon,” adds Reid. “It leaves a lasting bonding for life and I am grateful to the SF 49ers team for organizing such meaningful events for the community at large.”
The partnerships of varied ages among the fathers and their daughters offered fun-filled activities to all those eager to win contests. Retired San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Bono and his daughter Sophia, a Palo Alto High School graduate and now a student at Arizona State University, accepted the challenge of competing as a team in some exciting relay runs. “I forgot how to do it right,” stated Bono. “But I rely on Sophia to lead us victoriously to the finish line.” Following Joe Montana, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL, Steve Bono became the starting quarterback in 1995. On October 1, 1995 in a game against the Arizona Cardinals, Bono ran 76 yards for a touchdown, the longest scoring run by a quarterback in NFL history up to that time.
I was impressed to see the 49ers Head Coach Jim Tomsula taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to show his support for the Dads and Daughters Football Camp. To my inquiry if his daughters are here to participate with him in some of his famous drills, Tomsula replied, “My daughters are away in college now.” And as he happily schmoozed with over 100 participants and attendees of this event, he told me, “This is my family, too.”
The 49ers and BAWSI are focusing on empowering young girls and families to develop leadership skills on and off the field. It is a collaborative mission of encouraging young women to maximize their full potential in athletics, academics, and the community, while teaching them to live a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. “We stand for women in sports and that starts with girls in sports. Girls who are active and involved in sports have higher self-esteem, they have better body image,” said BAWSI CEO Jennifer Smith.
As the 49ers kick off their 2015-2016 football season this week, I was glad to observe that there is more to the five-time Super Bowl Champions than just striving for another Super Bowl trophy and its sparkling diamond Super Bowl ring. But that would definitely be a gratifying and thrilling goal for this legendary team, especially as they plan to host the 2016 Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, the home of the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers Foundation is the non-profit community funding extension of the San Francisco 49ers. Since 1992, the Foundation has donated $30.6 million to support non-profits, contributing $4.6 million in 2014, including a $1 million grant to launch the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute at Cabrillo Middle School. For more on the SF 49ers Foundation, visit http://www.49ersfoundation.com.
Founded in 2005 by Olympic and World Cup soccer stars Brandi Chastain BAWSI provides a meaningful path for women athletes to become a more visible and valued part of the Bay Area sports culture. For more on BAWSI visit http://www.bawsi.org.
Photos by Lina Broydo.
Lina Broydo immigrated from Russia, then the Soviet Union, to Israel where she was educated and got married. After working at the University in Birmingham, England she and her husband immigrated to the United States. She lives in Los Altos Hills, CA and writes about travel, art, style, entertainment, and sports. She hardly cooks or bakes, with no borsch or piroshky on her home cooking menu. Therefore, she makes reservations and enjoys dining out, mostly sushi.
By Lina Broydo