Being ‘BAWSI’ activates young women with college role models


“Bossy,” as defined, is to be fond of giving people orders — domineering. No one likes or wants to be called “bossy.” And more often than not, it’s assertive and strong girls and young women that get labeled as so.

But a local foundation, BAWSI (Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative) — pronounced “bossy” — is giving the word a whole new meaning.

BAWSI is an organization aimed at empowering young girls through athletics. In 2005, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain — previous star soccer players and members of the U.S. Women’s National Team — founded the organization in hopes to harness the power of female athletes to impact society and give them an opportunity to connect through authentic, intentional service.

BAWSI originally aimed to do this by providing opportunities to serve young girls that weren’t being exposed to organized sports or physical education classes, with a special emphasis on reaching girls in communities where obesity and diabetes were prevalent. Since that time, BAWSI has expanded far beyond its original intentions: the organization has successfully engaged more than 3,000 female athletes, served over 16,000 students all over the Bay Area, raised over $3 million to fund multiple new initiatives and has been recognized by The White House and the International Olympic Committee for its services to the community.

The video above features a typically BAWSI after-school program. This program, in particular, is aimed at young girls in underserved communities — specifically for girls living in areas where 50 percent of the population is below the poverty line. The event consisted of five female collegiate athletes from Stanford University, who came to “coach” a series of activities for the girls. The objective of bringing in female collegiate athletes is to showcase strong, confident and healthy women to serve as role models for the young girls. As demonstrated in the video, the activities included a series of games that featured several teamwork aspects and a high level of physical activity.

Editor’s Note: Reporters Chioma Ubogagu and Haley Rosen have been BAWSI volunteers.