Tag Archives: sports

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Women in Sports Journalism

Photo by Martin Bustamante

 

By Liz Carranza

Back in March I visited New York for the Society for Collegiate Journalists Conference, where journalism programs from around the nation gathered for workshops varying in investigative reporting, sports and photography contests. I met students from some of the top universities in the nation, such as the University of Alabama, the University of Florida and the University of Connecticut. While it was an experience I will cherish dearly, I left the conference with disappointment.

It was disappointing to see the lack of diversity within the sports seminars, and the conference as a whole. Sports journalism – and sports in general – is male-dominated. It is rare to see women in these fields receive the adequate recognition and respect. There is a misconception that women in sports journalism have no knowledge about sports and are just a pretty face.

I remember stepping into the first sports seminar on the first day of the conference; I felt the entire room stare me down as I took a seat in the front row. At first, I thought people were staring at me because I was dressed in all black with my gold septum jewelry shining from my nose, but I was wrong. I slowly turned around to a sea of people, and realized I was the only person of color. To top it all off, I was one of three women in the room. I immediately felt uncomfortable.

I shrugged off the uncomfortable stares and continued to stay positive that the next sports seminars would bring more people of color. Again, I was wrong. Every time I stepped into any of the sports seminars, eyes were glued on me.

I’ve had a few individuals tell me that the only reason why I chose to become a sports journalist was so I could interview “attractive men” and be the “pretty face in front of the camera.” I can’t help but laugh at their comments. I chose this career because I love writing about sports. I have a very personal connection to it because of my family. If you read my first column piece, you’ll remember that sports have always been an important part of my life. Family bonding in my childhood revolved around attending sporting events or watching the events from home.

I love finding out new things about athletes that you normally would not discover from them on the field. It’s the little moments in sports that make me love writing about them. It’s when you interview an athlete and they tell you the obstacles they overcame to get to where they are.

Back in early June, thanks to one of my journalism professors, I had the opportunity to attend the Oakland Raiders’ Organized Team Activities. When I saw Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski standing 10 feet away from me, I just wanted to burst out in excitement. Of course I kept my cool and wrote down notes in my black moleskin notepad. Then I saw one of my favorite Raiders’ player, Charles Woodson, run down the dashes next to me as he started firing up the rookie squad with encouragement. As I prepared to enter the conference room, I felt nervous and my stomach turned into knots. I was in a room filled with sports journalists, and I was the only woman of color. It was at that moment I knew I chose a career I love. It was also at that moment that I realized that I have the power to make a change.

Yes, there’s been positives in the sports world involving female athletes. We saw the U.S. Women’s National Team defeat Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to become the first national women’s team to win the Cup three times. Yes, we have Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey dominating their sport, but what about women in the sports media? What are they receiving? Nothing really.

Returning from New York and attending the Raiders’ Organized Team Activities really motivated me to continue with sports journalism, especially with the lack of women of color in the field. I want to make an impact in the field and demonstrate that women do know about sports, and that we do have knowledge about stats, sports history and athletes.

Women of color – and really all women – bring something new to sports journalism. In a platform that is dominated by men, I believe women have the ability and knowledge to tell sports stories. We bring different opinions and ideas to the table, just like men in sports media do. I think sports newsrooms need more women, especially more women of color, into their platforms, so the stereotype of “just a pretty face behind the camera” can end.

A Slice of Sports with Liz Carranza: Football is back, baby!

It’s that time of year when all I hear is ESPN Sportscenter’s “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” theme song jingle from my cellphone at the most random times of the day.   

It’s the best time of the year because the love of my life is here to visit me. It’s the thing that makes me ecstatic, makes me throw fists full of fury in the air; the one who makes me jump out of my seat and makes me want to pull my hair out at times. He puts me through this grueling 17-week long emotional roller-coaster ride, but I love him. Football season is finally here and that means the Oakland Raiders are back in action!

I woke upon the first Sunday of the season with this joy bursting in my heart. This soon turned to a bitter taste in my mouth that, for the past 13 years, I’ve become accustomed to as a Raiders fan.

My phone flashed as the “dah dah dah, dah dah dah” filled the room with the alert that the Raiders’ starting quarterback Derek Carr was out with a hand injury in the second quarter. To make matters even worse, the team was trailing the Cincinnati Bengals 24-0 by halftime.

Things just continued to spiral downhill for Oakland. Safety Nate Allen injured his knee, which was a big blow for the defense who looked lost the entire game. Allen leaving the game after the first half left the middle of the field open for Bengals’ wide receivers to sprint away carefree. The injuries just kept rolling through. Veteran safety Charles Woodson hurt his shoulder and defensive tackle Justin Ellis left with an ankle injury.

The team got slammed in a disappointing 33-13 loss. Over the years I’ve seen my team get blown out by the end of the first quarter, so this embarrassing performance by Oakland was nothing new to me.

I grew up in a household where family bonding meant watching sports, and that involved watching the Raiders every Sunday. I remember growing up, Mark Acasio, or as most individuals know him by Gorilla Rilla, would stop by our home to pick up some of my mom’s homemade pozole and tamales. He would spend a few hours talking to my brother and dad about football while I ran around screaming “Raider Nation! Just win baby!” He would chuckle and tell my dad he was raising me right.

People always ask me why I continue to be a Raiders fan. My response is always the same, I bleed the Silver and Black and I always will. Even if the team decides to move to Los Angeles to share a stadium with the San Diego Chargers, I’ll still be a faithful fan.  

It’s the wild cheers and high-five celebrations with strangers inside the Oakland Coliseum when Woodson catches an interception that bring me joy. It’s when you see kicker Sebastian Janikowski attempt a 63-yard field goal against the Denver Broncos to make NFL history that keeps me cheering. Last season I stood in the Black Hole with my clothes drenched in water yelling “Let’s go Raiders!” to see my team win their first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. It was one of the best feelings to see Oakland win after losing for 10 straight weeks. It’s these type of moments that make me love football and the Raiders so much.

I’ve been waiting 13 years since our last Super Bowl appearance to see my team gain their possession as a top AFC team instead of the league’s laughingstock. My prediction for the remainder of the season is Oakland will end with a 5-11 record. There’s still 16 weeks and 15 regular games left in this season. Let’s see where the team goes from here and how they’ll play against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.
Let’s also see how I survive this 17-week roller-coaster relationship I have with the Raiders. If you see a girl walking down the third floor of the Humanities Building dressed in three shades of black, an iced medium coffee in her right hand, and looks sleep deprived, don’t worry, my relationship with football does this to me. All I know is, I’m just really happy football is finally back!

A Moot Point

Soccer player Kaitlin Dick poses on the field of Cox Stadium.(Annastashia Goolsby/ Xpress Magazine)
Soccer player Kaitlin Dick poses on the field of Cox Stadium.(Annastashia Goolsby/ Xpress Magazine)

For a soccer player, the field is their safe place. It is where they go to blow off steam and forget about the real world for any amount of time possible. There have been tears left in the grass, blood dripped onto jerseys, and scars both visible and unseen that will remain forever. For any athlete, their arena is their heaven on earth.

This is not always the case for openly gay athletes. Although sports have been slowly progressing with the first openly gay athlete playing in the NBA this year, gay athletes still face harsher scrutiny when on the field or court. From college sports to professional sports, the level of acceptance varies.

The NFL is close to having its first openly gay athlete in defensive end Michael Sam. After coming out, he was the drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round and we all assumed we had made a huge leap forward; a gay man in the NFL. But that victory celebration was stopped short when the team cut him and signed a different player. Sam was then picked up by the Dallas cowboys only to face the same letdown.

San Francisco in general is one of the most accepting cities for gays and lesbians, with that attitude also present on the field. In particular, gay athletes at SF State say they feel supported even though it sometimes can be difficult to relate to heterosexual teammates.

Kaitlin Dick, a kinesiology major and member of the women’s soccer team at SF State, came out in her junior year and had only positive reactions from her teammates. She says that by the time she told her teammates, they already had a pretty good idea and treated it like a normal thing.

Sports provide both gay and straight athletes with a safe haven to express themselves and feel like they fit in. “Once you’re on the field, none of it matters,” says Dick. “Gay, straight, bi, everyone is out there to play and I never felt like I was at a disadvantage because I was gay.”

Homosexuality is often tough to accept and learn to deal with no matter what you do in your free time. But when you are an athlete, there are certain expectations that inevitably fall upon you.

For males, those expectations are to be “manly” and “tough.” But these words are defined by the sports world only by demeanor and muscle strength. Male athletes are expected to carry themselves with confidence and be able to get any girl they want. If they do not do these things, they are called “fags” or “gay.” The word “gay” in the sports world is used as an insult when someone is not meeting the expectations that have traditionally fell upon male athletes.

For female athletes, the expectations are almost polar opposite from male athletes. Females are expected to maintain a slim and petite build and not get too bulky. If they are muscular and drink protein shakes like the guys then they run the risk of being called “butch.”

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has started to focus on LGBT inclusion, but it has no power to enforce sanctions over homophobic behavior. Athletes are left with two choices, go through the schools administrative process or take legal action.

The heteronormative gender bias beliefs that accompany each sexuality are a consequence of a society that, for generations, has feared homosexuality and done what they can to keep it out of mainstream things such as sports.

Reports have shown that certain colleges will ask players things such as, “do you have a girlfriend” or “do you date a lot,” when they are in the recruiting process. These players openly stated that they felt the coaches were trying to get a feel for their sexual orientation before they offered them a spot on their team.

The reality of it is, sexuality does not determine an individual’s skill level and sports are a scoring of those skills.

“I believe that I am successful in my sport because I work my ass off,” says *Michael, an athlete at SF State. “I am gay, yes. But that doesn’t make me good at sports and I don’t believe that I would be more athletic had I been born straight.”

Coaches at SF State say that they try to be aware of players sexuality while not paying much attention to it. They say it is a useful thing to know so you can keep an eye out for any unfair treatment but it is not something they want to draw attention to. They need their team to play their best, no matter the sexual preferences of the players.

*Michael says that being part his sports team gives him access to a unique group of friends. Because everyone on the team already has something very important to them in common — the sport — it is easy for him to find something to talk about with them other than girls. This is important to all individuals but especially gay athletes because they create a close bond with teammates that help them through the judgment of other people who do not understand them.

“I know that without athletics, I wouldn’t have had access to the group of accepting friends that I did,” says Dick. “Coming out to them and having them not make a big deal out of it gave me the confidence I needed to come out to my parents and be okay with whatever reaction they had.”

It has been a rollercoaster for Sam, his family, and all those who await the day they see a gay man competing in the NFL, and all other sports, but the next peak is anxiously being awaited by all who know how difficult a road it is to be a gay athlete at any level.

Gators hockey driven by passion despite struggles

The Gators at hockey practice. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
The Gators at hockey practice. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

The SF State Gators ice hockey team was born out of a passion for the sport. As one of the school’s twelve club sports, it was organized last year by students who wanted to play so much they created a team themselves.

The team plays Division Three hockey as one of five teams in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association. San Jose State University and Stanford are among the other schools in the association. Last season, the Gators had no coaches but are now coached by ex-players. All but two of the players were born in California with one born in Illinois and one in Guatemala. The Gators have gotten off to a poor start this season, as they have lost their first five games and saw two players fall to serious injuries in the first three.

 

Get to know some of the players:

 

 

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Andrew Duenes. (ALL PHOTOS By Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Andrew Duenes, a mechanical engineering major, is an alternate captain and the team president. He plays on the wing for the Gators. He got interested in hockey as a small child. “I started watching hockey at a young age,” he writes in an email interview. “Both of my parents watch hockey all the time.” He started playing roller hockey when he was five.

The Gators voted for club officers for the first time this year, electing Duenes president. “My job is basically to look over the club and make final decisions,” he writes. He knows he can rely on the other officers. “I trust my other officers to do their job, making this year pretty easy for myself,” he writes. “I couldn’t do much without my other officers.”

Duenes was born in Northridge, California but grew up in West Hills, California. His favorite team in the National Hockey League is the Los Angeles Kings. He describes himself as “a HUGE Kings fan.” He grew up watching them and hoping to play for them one day. He tries to attend at least one Kings game each year and wants to see them face the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center, the Sharks’ home arena, and at the outdoor game that will be held at Levi’s Stadium February 21, 2015. He especially wants to go because he missed the outdoor game the Kings hosted at Dodger Stadium earlier this year. His favorite NHL player is L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick. “He is the best goaltender in the league,” Duenes writes. “Watching him play is awesome, with all of the ridiculous saves he makes.” As a spectator, he loves hockey’s fast pace and the skill the players demonstrate. “All of the moves the players can do and the shots they can make is crazy,” he writes.

He believes more people would enjoy hockey if they took the time to actually watch it. “Go to a game, it will change your perspective,” he writes in reference to those who are uninterested in hockey. “Give it a chance, it’s an amazing sport.”

***

Matthew Gold, who majors in history, is the Gators’ vice president and plays left or right wing, “depending on what the coaches need at the time,” he writes in an email interview. He has enjoyed hockey for basically as long as he can remember. He was born in 1993, the year Anaheim, California got an NHL team, then named the Mighty Ducks. His father, whom Gold describes as “a huge hockey fan all of his life,” became an avid fan of the new club. Gold, who was born and raised in Upland, California, also is a fan of the team now named the Anaheim Ducks.

Gold got away from the sport for a while until a friend took him to game during his junior year of high school, “and I fell in love again,” he writes. That game also prompted his interest in playing hockey. He starting out on roller skates until late in his freshman year when he discovered SF State had a team. Then, he writes, “I put on ice skates and began actively working to start playing ice hockey.”

He loves hockey’s speed and constant action. “There’s never a dull moment in hockey,” he writes. His favorite aspect of the game is the camaraderie seen even among opponents. “And the best part is after all the hitting and chirping, for the most part, teams can put everything aside and shake hands at the end of the game,” he writes. “There’s a brotherhood in hockey that you won’t find in any other sport.”

He encourages those who say they do not like hockey without having watched the sport to give it a chance before passing judgment. “Don’t knock it til you try it,” he writes.

Gold appreciates how well the team gets along. “This team is one of the tightest I’ve ever played on,” he writes. “I’ve never had so much fun playing hockey.”

***

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Corey Bemis

Corey Bemis, a freshman who majors in history, is a forward. He has played hockey competitively since he was thirteen. He started out playing roller hockey and only made the switch to ice hockey this season. He admits it is a change, but he was able to make the transition easily. “It was pretty smooth,” he says. The biggest adjustment for him was the difference in skating style, but he reached the same speed on the ice that he was accustomed to off it “after two or three practices,” Bemis says.

The Cupertino native is a lifelong Sharks fan. “I’ve always been obsessed with hockey,” Bemis says. “I’ve been going to Sharks games since I was eighteen months old.” His favorite NHL players are Tommy Wingels and Tomas Hertl of the Sharks. “He’s a fun player to watch,” he says of Wingels. He dislikes but respects the rival Kings. “It really goes to show the Kings’ strength,” Bemis says of L.A.’s historic comeback victory against the Sharks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs in which the Kings became the fourth team to win a seven-game series after losing the first three contests.

“I’d say it’s a growing sport,” he says of hockey in California. People “really should give it a chance.”

 

***

 

 

Paul Klein, a computer science major, plays right wing. He grew up in a family of hockey players and has been involved with the sport from a young age. “I started playing hockey a long time ago,” he says. Klein is from Laguna Niguel, California and is a fan of the Ducks. He played hockey at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, one of the first high schools in the state with a hockey team. He played the sport in the first year a team hit the ice at both JSerra and SF State. He first got involved with the Gators after seeing Andrew Duenes, now the club president, sitting at a table the team set up and wearing a Kings jersey. He thinks the presence of a hockey team at SF State is a sign of the move “toward making it a more athletic school.”

Klein talks about his team’s passion for the sport. “We really do care about the sport of hockey,” he says. He encourages people who are interested in finding out more about the Gators to stop by their table, which is out on the quad every so often, or to visit their Facebook page.

***

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Ryan Murnane

 

 

Ryan Murnane, a history major in his third semester at SF State, is a defenseman and alternate captain for the Gators. He was introduced to the sport by his father and started out playing pond hockey when he was about ten. He loves that it is “one of the fastest sports there is, always going,” he says. He was born in Wheeling, Illinois but grew up more in and around Sacramento.

His favorite NHL team is the Detroit Red Wings, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks. He will also root for “anyone who plays against the [Boston] Bruins.” He has a particular distaste for that team because he thinks they play dirty. His favorite player of all-time is Steve Yzerman, a Hall of Famer who played for Detroit. Among active players, he says, “I really like the way Steven Stamkos plays.” Stamkos plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think it’s the greatest sport,” Murnane says. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

 

 

 

***

Michael Parra, a criminal justice major in his fifth semester at SF State, plays on the wing– “left preferably”–for the school’s ice hockey club. He started out in the sport by playing street hockey with his brothers in front of their house in San Bruno when he was about six years old. Now twenty-six, he is the oldest member of the team, which he calls “a pretty young group.” The average age of the players is nineteen. He feels a sense of responsibility to the rest of the team because of his age and because of his varied experiences, having both played and coached, been captain, and dealt with injuries. “I want to provide a sense of leadership to the younger guys,” he says. He has played in two international tournaments, one in Canada and one in Florida. “It was actually pretty cool … being able to play in a serious but fun environment,” Parra says.

His favorite team and player in the National Hockey League are his hometown San Jose Sharks and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively. He feels hockey “has grown a lot” in California but more so in the southern part of the state. “As the years have gone on, the sport has really progressed, especially in So Cal,” he says. He admits a begrudging respect for the Sharks’ Southern California rivals, the  Kings and the Ducks. “I can’t really stand So Cal sports teams, but I admire their business practices in Anaheim as well as LA,” he says. “They’re doing the right thing off the ice.” He adds that the Kings’ goalie, Jonathan Quick, can be “the best player in the world” when he is at the top of his game.

He thinks more people would enjoy the game if they would only give it a chance. “It’s unfortunate that in the Bay Area, it doesn’t get as much respect as football or baseball, and I think that’s because people don’t understand it,” Parra says. “If people had someone explain it to them…it only takes a couple games to get hooked.”

Parra truly loves the game. “Hockey—I live and breathe it,” he says.

***

Casey Ticsay is a sophomore BECA major in her first season with the Gators. She was exposed to hockey early on. “My family is a hockey family,” she explains. Her father and uncles played the sport. “I’m glad I thought to grow up with it because now it’s my life,” she says. She started playing hockey when she was eleven. “I’ve always played on boys’ teams,” she says, because there were not enough girls to field a separate team. She did briefly play for an all-girls travel team as a kid, but she prefers to be on male teams because it is what she is used to and because she likes the “more aggressive” style of play. She feels her gender has never put her at a disadvantage or made other players look down on her. “I liked how they didn’t treat me any differently,” she says of the boys and men she has played with and against throughout her time in hockey. In fact, she believes skating with the guys has helped her. “It made me a lot tougher and stronger,” says the five-foot-two defenseman.

She is from Granada Hills, California and has long loved the Kings. I’ve been a “huge fan of the Los Angeles Kings since I was a kid,” Ticsay says. “I’ve been going to games literally since I was a baby because of my dad.” One of her favorite players is L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty, though she says, “I love everyone on the team.” She is also a fan of some of the greats from the past. My dad “always talked about the older players [such as] Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita. I like them,” she says.

Ticsay loves hockey and was grateful for the opportunity to keep playing in college. She says she was really glad when she found out SF State has a team because she had played a lot in Southern California and “would have missed it” if she had to stop. She speaks passionately about the sport. “I think it’s exciting,” Ticsay says. “I think hockey’s an amazing sport. I could talk about it all day.”

Quest for Three: SF GIANTS ARE YOUR WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

The Giants are your 2014 World Series Champions! Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine
The Giants are your 2014 World Series Champions! (Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine)

Through trials and tribulations, through blood and tears, the Giants and their fans have waited for this moment all season long. Through amazing wins and tough losses, the Giants have worked towards this one game, Game 7 of the World Series, a make it or break it game. After tonight, only one team will go home a winner. The Giants defied the odds, being the underdogs from Game 1 with the Pirates, they proved they are a force to be reckon with and tonight they are your 2014 World Series Champions. The Giants beat the Royals 3-2 in the last game of the season.

Tim Hudson has waited 39 years for this moment, a moment that not many pitchers get to see, an opportunity to pitch in the World Series. Although Hudson only pitched 1.2 innings, he had three hits, one ball, one strikeout and two runs. He was able to pitch a flawless first inning which led the Giants into their second inning rally. Jeremy Affeldt came in to relieve Hudson in the second and pitched 2.1 innings with only one hit, no walks, and no walks. Affeldt now has 23  1/3 scoreless postseason innings, a record that goes back to the 2010 World Series. Affeldt got the win for the Giants, and even teared up in his post game interview.

With Hudson and Affeldt holding the Royals to only two runs, they allowed Madison Bumgarner enough time to rest and enter the game. Being one of the best World Series pitchers, Bumgarner pitched an amazing five innings with only two hits, no runs, no balls.

The Giants got their rally started early when Pablo Sandoval was hit by a pitch in the second inning and became a lead-off runner. With Sandoval and Pence on, Micheal Morse hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field, scoring Sandoval. Brandon Crawford followed Morse’s lead and hit another sac-fly to center field, allowing Pence to score. The Giants were the first to score in the second, leading 2-0.

With the game tied in the fourth, the Giants knew they had to score more runs. With Sandoval and Pence on base again, Morse singled on a line drive to right field, scoring Sandoval and giving the Giants the lead once again, 3-0. During the third inning, Joe Panik made a beautiful, diving, belt breaking double play. After catching the ball and belly flopping onto the ground, Panik was able to flip the ball to Crawford, without taking the ball out of his met, and get a play at second. After Crawford threw to first, the play was initially ruled safe but Bochy called a review and found that Panik got the double play.

Madison Bumgarner is your 2014 World Series Most Valuable Player. Bumgarner pitched 52.2 IP, with 45 SO, 28 Hits, 6 BB, 6 ER 1.025 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and a 5-1 record, 3-0 in World Series.

The Giants won their quest for three, getting their third World Series victory in five years.

A Giant celebration

It is a sad reality that because the city of San Francisco has a team competing in the World Series of Baseball they have to think up new ways to control fans. A victory could lead to rowdy celebrations and, dare I say, a loss could result in angry pissed off fans taking their anger out in a variety of ways.

In 2012, the San Francisco Giants were triumphant over the Detroit Tigers ending a seven game series in a swift four games. In some areas, celebration turned violent when fires were started and windshields were broken. Reports of the destruction and consequent arrests made headline news. Police and city leaders have made it clear on social media that they do not want a repeat of that and police presence will be heightened.

Let us stop and think about this logically – sports teams are an extension of a city; they are something that brings people of all walks of life together, something everyone can rally around, something that gives a city hope. So, it is safe to say that when rooting for your “home team,” you are rooting for your home. Why then should your “home team” winning result in your home dishing out time, money, and effort to repair itself?

The fact of the matter may simply be: people have forgotten that sports teams are a privilege given to them by the cities they play for. Although the city generates great revenue from their sports teams, they also pay a hefty price to get them and keep them.

That being said, San Francisco fans may have this year to redeem themselves since the Giants will be playing in Game 7, a do or die game against the Kansas City Royals.

There will be a viewing party at Civic Center to watch Game 7 unfold and there will be police ready to impede and disturbances before, during, or after the game. According to officers at the Southern Police Station, the viewing party is not the main concern. “I am worried about the people watching the game in the bars,” says Officer Wong. “The viewing party at Civic Center gets its fair shard of drunk fans but there are also families and there isn’t alcohol constantly being consumed.”

What happened to the good ‘ole days where a victory celebration consisted and after party with high-fives and hugs, a glass of champagne, and some classy jazz music in the background? Nobody seems to know when the acts of vandalism, such as throwing a police barricade through a Muni windshield, becomes the optimal way to show your happiness and pride.

This year, no matter the outcome, let us try to keep the headlines about the game and not about arrests being made around the city.

Go Giants. Go San Francisco.

Quest for Three: Giants will see Game Seven

The Giants couldn't hold onto the lead and will face the Royals in Game 7. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.
The Giants could not hold onto the lead and will face the Royals in Game 7. (Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine)

Hopes were high and fans were on the edge of their seats as the Giants faced the Royals today in game six of the World Series. If the Giants could pull it out today and get a win, then they would be the 2014 World Series Champions. Sadly, the Giants could not hang on and showed this series would be getting the best of them. The Giants lost 10-0 tonight against the Kansas City Royals and will play a make it or break it game seven, the last game of the World Series.

Jake Peavy took the mound for the Giants and early on you could tell that Peavy was not in a good place. Peavy only lasted one and a third inning, giving up six hits, one ball, one strikeout, and five earned runs. Peavy was taken out of the game in the second inning with bases loaded, being replaced with post season stud Yusmerio Petit. With bases loaded, Petit was not able to defuse the situation, adding two more runs for the Royals.

With the Royals leading 7-0, Jean Machi entered the game but the Royals did not let up and scored another two. With a 9-0 lead, things looked bleak for the Giants. Hunter Strickland tried to relieve some pressure off of the Giants bullpen and in typical Strickland pitching, the Royals were able to hit a home run off him, extending their lead 10-0. Ryan Vogelsong came in to end the game for the Giants, a weird time for him to pitch but in Bruce Bochy’s mind, a perfect time.

To get a look into Bochy’s mind this is what he did. After having such a big deficit in runs, it was pretty evident that the Giants were going to play tomorrow. Instead of using his relievers and trying to stop the Royals from scoring, he save his best pitchers for tomorrow to help get the win. Knowing the Strickland and Vogelsong will not be used tomorrow, he was able to use them today to get the Giants through the game and onto tomorrow.

The Giants looked off today, not only in pitching but in defense and offense as well. The Giants could not score a single run in today’s game and only a few of them were able to reach base. The Giants more than once left runners in scoring position and just did not look like their normal selves. Costly mistakes helped the Royals get the win today. In the second inning, Brandon Belt caught a ground ball and instead of seeing the signal and throwing to home, he fumbled around and tried to make a play at first but was too late to get the runner out.

Posey went 0-3, Sandoval was 1-3, Pence was 1-4, and Belt was 1-4. Knowing that the game was over, Andrew Susac, Joaquin Arias, Matt Duffy, and Juan Perez entered the game to try and give the Giants starters a little rest and prepare them for tomorrow’s game.

The Giants will play game seven tomorrow in Kansas City in the final game of the World Series. Tim Hudson will be on the mound and do not be surprised if Madison Bumgarner makes an appearance also, leading the Giants in their quest for their third World Series win. Tomorrow will be an exciting, fun, and heart-wrenching game.

Quest for Three: Giants headed to Kansas City with the Lead

A sea of orange at AT&T Park where the just took the lead in the World Series. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.
A sea of orange at AT&T Park where the just took the lead in the World Series. (Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine)

Giant’s ace Madison Bumgarner was on the mound tonight to inch the Giants one step closer to a World Series win. Bumgarner dominated at pitching, giving the Giants a 5-0 win over the Royals. The Giants now lead the series 3-2.

Bumgarner pitched a complete game shutout, something that has not been done in the Giants franchise since 1962. With nine innings pitched, no earned runs, no walks, four hits and eight strikeouts, Bumgarner is the MVP of the World Series. Currently, Bumgarner has a 0.69 ERA for the World Series, which is almost unspeakable for a pitcher.

The Giants helped their ace early in the game. After Hunter Pence reached base in the second, he moved into scoring position when Brandon Belt laid out a beautiful bunt. Brandon Crawford was up with two on and hit into an RBI ground out, scoring Pence.

In the fourth, Crawford hit another RBI, this time a single to center field scoring Pablo Sandoval and giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

With Sandoval and Pence on in the eighth, Juan Perez hit an RBI double, adding insurance runs for the Giants. Crawford hit his third RBI of the night, after singling and scoring Perez. The Giants had the lead 5-0.

Tonight was the final game of the season at AT&T Park. The Giants will travel to Kanas City tomorrow and resume their efforts of winning a third World Series on Tuesday. They only need one more win to make that happen.

In unrelated news, today was a sad day in Major League Baseball when word came in that St. Louis Cardinals top prospect, Oscar Taveras, was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Just two weeks ago, Taveras hit a game tying home run off of Giants pitcher Yusmerio Petit during the National League Championship Series. Taveras was just twenty-two years old.

Quest for Three: Giants own Game 4

Fans pack AT&T Park in hopes that the Giants can pull off a win. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.
Fans pack AT&T Park in hopes that the Giants can pull off a win. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.

Game 4 of the World Series wholeheartedly belonged to the Giants. After a crazy first couple innings, the Giants surged forward and never looked back. The Giants beat the Royals 11-4 and tied the World Series 2-2.

Ryan Vogelsong had a solid first inning but quickly got himself into trouble in the third when Eric Hosmer started the Royals rally with a single. Vogelsong pitched 2.2 innings with seven hits, one ball, two strikeouts, and four earned runs.

The Giants started their rally early in the first when Hunter Pence hit into a fielder’s choice scoring Gregor Blanco. Things started to look bleak for the Giants though when Salvador Perez hit a single RBI extending the Royals’ lead 4-1.

In the third, Buster Posey hit an RBI single, scoring Duffy and shortening the Royals’ lead 4-2. During the fifth, Pence hit another RBI single, scoring Panik and inching the Giants closer to a tie. Pence was able to score after Juan Perez hit a sac fly, tying the game.

The rally really begun in the sixth when Pablo Sandoval hit a line drive single, scoring Posey and Blanco. Brandon Belt then singled on a ground ball, allowing both Pence and Sandoval to score. The Giants were in the lead 7-4.

Blanco continued the rally in the seventh after bunting, and Crawford was able to score on the bunt when Tim Collins overthrew the pitch. Joe Panik then doubled, scoring Morse and Blanco, extending the lead 10-4. Pence backed Panik up with another double and the score was 11-4.

The Giants came back from the dead and blew the Royals away in an amazing display of teamwork. They will play their last home game of the season tomorrow at AT&T Park with Madison Bumgarner on the mound.

Quest for Three: Giants drop the ball in Game 3

The Giants return home in hopes of getting the lead in the World Series. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.
The Giants return home in hopes of getting the lead in the World Series. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.

The Giants returned home to the Bay Area for Game 3 of the World Series, but after the Royals got an early jump, the Giants could not catch up. The Giants lost 3-2 and are now behind in the series 1-2.

Tim Hundson made his first ever World Series appearance but was quickly hurt by the Royals. In the first inning, Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI single off Hudson, giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead. Hudson pitched 5.2 innings with four hits, one ball, two strikeouts, and three earned runs.

In the sixth inning, the Royals extended their lead when Alex Gordob hit a line-drive double to center field. Eric Hosmer followed up by singling, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

The Giants did not give up hope though, and in the sixth, Michael Morse doubled on a ball to left field, scoring Brandon Crawford. With Morse on, Buster Posey hit into a ground out allowing Morse to score. The Giants were on the board 3-2.

The Giants could not make a comeback though, losing 3-2. The Giants will play again today at AT&T Park, hoping to turn this series around and get a win.

 

Major League Sexism

Chelena Goldman, who reports on the San Jose Sharks for the Bay Area Sports Guy, scans through her notes at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1. (Annastashia Goolsby/ Xpress Magazine)
Chelena Goldman, who reports on the San Jose Sharks for the Bay Area Sports Guy, scans through her notes at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1. (Annastashia Goolsby/ Xpress Magazine)

In the history of sports journalism, there has never been more women reporting on televised American sports then there are today, according to the Women’s Media Center. Erin Andrews hosts Fox College Football for Fox Sports and here in the Bay Area, Amy Gutierrez is a sideline reporter for Comcast Sports Network (CSN) Bay Area, reports on the San Francisco Giants, Chelena Goldman covers the San Jose Sharks for Bay Area Sports Guy, and Susan Slusser former As’ beat reporter for the Chronicle and former top ranking baseball writer as president of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

“I loved it every time I did it,” says Melissa Ludtke, former Sports Illustrated reporter and researcher, about her time reporting on baseball and being in the locker room. “In the tunnel I began to see beams of lights and green, and every time you came out it was like a mosaic, beautiful. It never seemed old.”

When it comes to sports and journalism, women are on it. From reporting on-the-field, to doing in-depth reporting, even being anchors, female reporters are more prevalent than ever. Look at Jeannie Morris, who was the first female winner of a Ring Lardner Award for excellence in sports journalism; however with every step forward, we have two steps back. Ludtke, who has been in the business for four decades, sued Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1977, when she was banned access to either locker room during the World Series, after MLB announced that no women reporters would be allowed to report from inside either team’s locker room. Ludtke won her case with the court ruling that women sports reporters are at a severe disadvantage.

But why are women still not taken seriously as sports journalists? Female sports journalists are winning awards, just like the men, and they are out on the field reporting, interviewing the players, and bringing the stories to their fans. Why are women not at the “roundtable of experts” giving their two cents about a professional game, but instead being bullied? In 2005, while covering the Saint Louis Cardinals, Paola Boivin was approached by a player and asked if she was there to cover sports or to stare at a bunch of naked penises. The bullying continued when a sweaty jock strap hurled into the air, hitting Boivin in the head. Stunned, she ran out of the locker room. That incident alone almost made her end her career in sports journalism.

Goldman says she would love to do a radio spot before a game or a pre-game talk on a television, using different outlets to report on the sports she loves but to also continue writing.

“The same thing happen to women in science and video games,” says Ludkte. “It’s invading a territory that belongs to a man. And when that happens, they turn women into sex objects, it’s an automatic reflex.”

In 2012, 90 percent of sports journalists were white males, according to the Women’s Media Center. One-hundred and fifty sports newspapers and websites received a failing grade for their hiring practices because did not hire enough women as editors, columnists, copy editors, or designers. Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) is one of the few news organizations increasing the number of women, and racial minorities, in their industry, according to the Women’s Media Center. Without their statistics, only 4.6 percent of the sports media industry would be made up of women.

“I actually haven’t had many instances where I was judged for being a woman in sports journalism,” says Maggie Pilloton, co-editor at Golden Gate Sports. “There was one time where I felt that my presence on a blog’s staff allowed the site to brag about having a female sports writer on staff. I generally find though that if you know what you’re talking about, you do your research, you work hard, and you’re confident and consistent, that people will give you the respect you deserve.”

Pilloton also adds that there are always going to be people criticizing you, but you cannot take it personally. She says that you have to believe in yourself, your talent, and your work ethic.

Sports journalist Amy Gutierrez, known on Twitter as @AmyGGiants, likes to report the “emotional, non-technical side of the game” to attract more viewership. Gutierrez has her own webcast on Comcast Sports Network (CSN) called Amy G.’s Giants Xclusive, where she interviews Giants players and produces short webcasts including Buster Knows Squat. The show features one of the Giants most popular players, Buster Posey, and incorporates the athlete’s funny side with the professional side of sports.

“A couple months ago, I did a story on a day in the life of Amy G.,” says Pilloton. “I was able to shadow her for a Giants game to see what a normal day was like for her.” “That was an unforgettable experience, and I feel so grateful that I got the opportunity to do that. I love being able to interview someone or attend an event, for example, and find the storyline. Writing human interest stories like that are so fun for me, especially since I got the chance to interview a role model of mine, Amy G.”

Pilloton went on to say that Guiterrez was an extremely hard working person, and humble and professional. It is clear that she loves her job and her family. Pilloton says that she learned so much from Guiterrez and loved being able to connect with her on a personal level, as they are both alumni from University of California, Davis.

“A normal day can be pretty busy and hectic for Amy, as she has to balance being a mom and wife with being the in-game reporter for the Giants,” says Pilloton.

“Her day is full of planning the hits she will deliver on the in-game broadcast, staying up to date on all Giants news, speaking with Giants players and coaches, interacting with fans, taking notes during the game, etc. She handles her busy schedule with incredible grace, humility, and patience.”

Amy Gutierrez is not as loved by the Giants fans on Twitter as one might think. Instead, Twitter is filled with hate and people tweeting that they want her off their television because they cannot stand her voice or the way she reports. Some fans have even adopted the hashtag #muteamy, while others call her names like “horseface.” Rene Godoy, @feenixgavredux on Twitter, a die-hard Giants fan, is one of the many people on Twitter who harasses Gutierrez and her work. Godoy says that in his eyes, her reports have no relevance to the teams’ progress and he would rather just listen to [Giants broadcasters] Kruk and Kuip talk.

A collection of mean-spirited tweets hashtagged #MuteAmyG, in response to Amy Gutierrez’s coverage of the Giants.
A collection of mean-spirited tweets hashtagged #MuteAmyG, in response to Amy Gutierrez’s coverage of the Giants.

Gutierrez takes her insults well though, replying to tweets saying “that’s nice! Thanks, lol!” or even joking that she needs to do a Jimmy Kimmel-like segment called “Amy G. reads mean tweets,” adding that she would crush it.

“It’s a little too much for the male comfort zone,” says Ludtke. “They turn it into hate. It doesn’t just happen in sports; it is challenging, difficult, and sad. It’s unbelievable that in four decades, this is still happening.”

In July, Erin Andrews was called a “gutless bitch” by Boston radio host Kirk Minihane, after asking Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright if he was “throwing easy pitches” to Derek Jeter. Minihane apologized for his language but then bashed Andrews again, insulting her intelligence and saying “Fox only hired her because she was good looking; if she weighed fifteen more pounds she would be a waitress at Perkins.” Instead of Minihane apologizing and leaving it at that, he personally attacked Andrews again.

Chelena Goldman, who reports for Bay Area Sports Guy, describes herself as very girly for someone who likes sports; she has her own uniform for games — dresses and tights. Goldman says no one has personally attacked her because she is a woman. She has had a scout or two talk down to her, though. Goldman added that the Bay Area has a lot of women in sports journalism.

“I love what I do, it is my dream job,” says Goldman. “This is what I went to school to do and I am lucky and happy to be doing it. It is cool to sit and watch a game.”

Women still have a long way to go in the male-dominated field of sports journalism, but they are bridging the gender gap and it does not look like they will be stopping anytime soon. Although there are only about 5 percent of women covering sports in this country, they are still kicking ass doing it.

Kicking for change

J Coach Benjamin Anderson, center, holds a team chat after practice at Margaret Hayward Park. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)
J Coach Benjamin Anderson, center, holds a team chat after practice at Margaret Hayward Park. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)

On the basketball court underneath the Interstate 280 overpass, men and women gather on a chilly September evening and introduce themselves twenty minutes before the last practice at Mission Bay Creek Park. There is a mix of old and new players from Street Soccer USA (SS USA). A tall man wearing a newsboy cap comes up and introduces himself as Shane Bullock, one of the preliminary candidates to represent the United States at the Homeless World Cup (HWC) taking place in Santiago, Chile in October.

When brothers Lawrence and Rob Cann combined social work with their love for soccer in North Carolina, they found that using the two together kept people engaged, hopeful, and motivated. This realization turned into more teams being brought together, slowly creating the Street Soccer USA organization. When Rob moved to San Francisco, they were able to cover more ground.

Through soccer, the organization aims to help homeless men, women, and youth get their lives back together. They realize that a lot of the homeless are just stuck in a cycle of hopelessness; after being on the street and in shelters off and on for years at a time, they get stuck in a loop, and it becomes their identity.

It took Bullock a while to decide he wanted to join Street Soccer USA. He thought they were just pick-up games and was hesitant about playing for a homeless team. For weeks, recruiters from the organization had been coming around the Saint Vincent de Paul Society homeless shelter – where he had been living for ten months – and when they asked him if he wanted to play, almost saying yes, he said he would take a raincheck instead.

“I didn’t see them for a couple of weeks after that,” Bullock says. “But they came by again, so I decided to go and I’ve been here ever since. I didn’t realize it was this whole thing.”

The twenty-six-year-old joined the program the week of Thanksgiving last year. He explains that when you are in the shelter [at Saint Vincent de Paul of Society] for the night, you have to stay in. So when he first went to practice, it was just to get out.

“I could only read so many books in there,” Bullock says. “I was at the library every day and I would just go there, read books, eat dinner, and just go to sleep.”

According to the Homeless World Cup website, after attending a conference on homelessness in South Africa in 2001, founders Mel Young and Harald Schmied believed the power of soccer can push the homeless into a positive direction. And with the help of seventy partners around the world, they were able to bring the first HWC to Graz, Austria in 2003.

The United States team was picked during the Street Soccer USA National Cup, which was hosted in August by the Street Soccer USA organization in San Francisco.

In the past, the Street Soccer USA National Cup was held at Times Square in New York City but this year was the first time it was held in San Francisco, after it was continuously hosted on the east coast. According to Antoine Lagarde, a coach of the Bay Area team, with the Cann brothers’ connections and networking, Street Soccer USA set up partnerships with the mayor’s office, various members of the board of supervisors, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, corporations, and with the connections in the soccer leagues to get players to participate and help fund the program, making it able to come to life on the west coast. With City Hall as its backdrop, the sixteen teams from all over the country came together at the Civic Center Plaza to celebrate their hard work and showcase to the community that they are more than just homeless.

“Choosing players to represent the country in the HWC is not about who the most skillful player is,” Lagarde says at another practice in Margaret Hayward Playground. “We want to send a message [to the other players] that it’s not about who’s good, it’s the people who are in the program who are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

There are three criteria in which a player is chosen. First, what they have achieved off the field: securing housing, a job, and going back to school. Second, how they act on the team: their attitude, teamwork, and if they act as a role model [to other players]. Lastly, playing ability and commitment – even if the player is at a beginner’s level or has just joined the program, showing up to practices and games is critical.

Lagarde, a former player, is now an employee of the organization as a coach, and is also a teacher at the San Francisco Conservation Corps. When he first joined the Street Soccer movement, he was “in a weird transition stage,” struggling with bipolar disorder that led him to destructive behaviors. When he was getting better and on the path out, he was an assistant teacher, and a lot of his students that were in gangs were having issues. With his love for soccer, Lagarde, along with a case manager, started a soccer team, and ended up going to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Cup. Soon after that he went to the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris to coach the US team under the Eiffel Tower.

“With what I learned as a player, I try to transmit to the current players,” Lagarde says. “Players who represent the country become ambassadors and serve as role models to the other players.”

“What we do that’s different— we realized that a lot of these players are numb. They’ve given up, they don’t want to feel the pain and would rather shut it off, and not have too many expectations. So when they step on the soccer field, their emotions come out again- they’re happy, they’re sad, they’re passionate, they enjoy life, they want to taste more of it.”

Street Soccer USA supports and gives those in the program “tough love,” Lagarde says. He explains that they check in on them, ask about appointments, or ask about cutting down on drinking. Other players on the team encourage them to keep that motivation and help with the resources they need to get that focus back in their lives. After a year in the program, 75 percent of the players reach their main goals: housing, getting sober, going back to school, reuniting with family, and obtaining full-time employment. The struggles of the other 25 percent are related to alcohol, drugs, or various types of mental illnesses.

“Even in a city like San Francisco, with all these social services, there’s very little funding when it comes to mental health issues,” Largarde says.

The organization is funded through grants, churches, private donations, and a for-profit soccer league called “I Play For,” where they have multiple games throughout the year. Grants from the US Soccer Foundation helped fund the Street Soccer court at Margaret Hayward Playground that was installed over the summer, and corporations like BlackRock, an investment management company, gave donations. These donations have allowed them to hire coaches and have scholarships so that some of the players can pay for college books, buy clothes for interviews, get IDs, or pay off tickets. Sponsors also give funds for uniforms, cleats, and some of the travelling expenses.

According to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were over six hundred thousand sheltered and unsheltered homeless in a single night in January last year, seeing a decline since 2010. California had the highest rate of homelessness, representing 22 percent of the homeless population, and even though the country as a whole saw a decline, the Golden State had an increase in homelessness second behind New York between 2012 and 2013. San Francisco has one of the highest homeless populations amongst United States cities.

James Grigsby does tricks with the ball before Street Soccer practice at Margaret Hayward Park. Grigsby comes from a hip hop dance background and constantly looks to incorporate those talents to his time in the Street Soc- cer world.(Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)
James Grigsby does tricks with the ball before Street Soccer practice at Margaret Hayward Park. Grigsby comes from a hip hop dance background and constantly looks to incorporate those talents to his time in the Street Soc- cer world.(Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)

At the September practice at Mission Bay Creek Park, while the players got acquainted with one another, a man with blonde hair down his neck set up perimeter with small orange cones around half of the basketball court. He then gathered everyone in a circle and introduced himself to the newcomers as Benjamin Anderson. In the circle, Anderson asked each person to say their name and pick a stretch to do, with each person after having to repeat everyone’s name of who went before him or her.

“Support is really important when you’re trying to make a change in your life,” Anderson says, almost shouting to the small group, competing with the noise of cars and trucks exiting the freeway directly above.

After hearing about the organization a year ago, Anderson contacted the director of the program and has been involved as a Street Soccer coach ever since. To him, the biggest thing about Street Soccer is that it creates a community of support and gives the homeless a reason to get out of the shelter and engage in a healthy activity. Those individuals who continuously come to practice then become friends, help each other, and become each other’s support system, Anderson says.

“Collectively, we do some goal setting and life skills coaching,” Anderson explains. “And then the community kind of helps hold the players accountable to reaching those goals through positive reinforcement, encouragement, and it instills a sense of confidence in the players.”

After engaging with homeless players for a year, the twenty-eight-year-old thinks the biggest struggle is the fact that they do not have a lot of motivation.

“A lot of these folks are in the shelter and looking for work and they’re continually demoralized because it’s difficult to get your feet on the ground,” Anderson says. “San Francisco is a really expensive city. The job market isn’t the best for entry-level employment. So a lot of players get discouraged when they do make the attempts to improve their situation.”

One player from the Saint Vincent de Paul Society homeless shelter had just joined practice that afternoon when Anderson and Bullock came to ask if anyone wanted to play soccer. “I just wanted to relax on my day off,” Aldo Sanchez says, about joining the group.

Earlier, he looked up at the building on the other side of the court and asked another player how much he thought it was to live in the luxury apartment. The Edgewater Apartment on Berry Street he was referring to ranges from $3,224 for a one bedroom to $4,428 for a two bedroom. Sanchez came to the city from Las Vegas last month, and Long Beach, California before that.

“I don’t think about what we do,” Sanchez says, unsure if he wants more out of it. “I just like to go with the flow.”

Bullock was at the shelter for ten months before moving into his single room occupancy. Now an employee of Street Soccer USA, he is able to make enough for the necessities he needs to get by. Before San Francisco, he was living in Sacramento with his older brother and moved down when he realized his younger brother needed help.

Not wanting to go into detail regarding his brother’s status, Bullock says, “I don’t want people judging him for the situation he’s in.” He did not have money saved up when he came down, and neither him or his brother saw it as a “viable option” to live together, and as a result, Bullock found himself homeless.

“There wasn’t really anyone here for him, or at least that’s how he felt,” Bullock says, looking down at his hands. “And so I took it upon myself to come down here.”

It was overwhelming for him to be chosen for the Homeless World Cup. He says that he is only an alternate and will not play unless someone else cannot, but he is excited to watch his teammates from other cities across the country play. He has never been to South America, but he has been to France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland for a People to People program, which gives students the opportunity to learn about other cultures through traveling and giving them the chance to gain hands-on experience of what it is like to live in another country.

“I haven’t had a specific goal I wanted to reach in my life,” Bullock says. “But the reason I came to San Francisco was to help my brother, so that’s my goal right now — Just to get him going better.”

Inside the barriers of the street soccer court at Margaret Hayward Playground, where names of their sponsors and crests with bold words such as “OPPORTUNITY,” “SUPPORT,” and “HOPE” wrap around the sides, players and a new volunteer huddle in the center where the Street Soccer USA logo lays to listen to the coach at the end of practice. Lagarde shouts, “We all play for change in our lives—everybody put their hands in—”

“One, two, three, CHANGE!” everyone chants loudly in unison.