By Juan A. Martinez
When Lovella Sein-Colon "Coach Love" became the girls sports coordinator last year at the San Antonio Sports Complex in Oakland, she noticed that there were few events and programs being offered to young girls.
As a result, Coach Love and Oakland's Office of Parks and Recreation came up with a way for girls to come together and hang out three times a year. During the months of October, February and June, young ladies will have a special and selected day to build sisterhood in their communities through an event known as "Girls' Hangout Day."
In creating this event, interest in girls sports has risen dramatically in the city of Oakland. At the first "Girls' Hangout Day" - held on Oct. 26 - about 72 girls participated.
"Because word spread quickly, we now have a huge demand for this event," Coach Love said. "At least 150 girls are expected to attend on Friday. It grew from being once a year, to now three times a year."
The first "Girls' Hangout Day" of 2013 will be held 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Mosswood Recreation Center, located at 3612 Webster St. in Oakland. As a part of a city-wide movement, each hangout day takes place at one of the city's 24 recreation centers, 53 parks and or 53 ballparks.
Although "Girls' Hangout Day" was developed for girls ages 5-18, children of all ages, as well as their parents, are welcomed to partake in this celebration.
"Mothers and fathers are strongly encouraged to accompany their kids," Coach Love said. "Having their family participation is often times more important than having volunteers because it really enhances outdoor physical activity."
Coach Love also said there are many sports at this event that girls can play and choose from.
"Girls can play volleyball, soccer, flag football, boxing, basketball and double-dutch," she said. "We also have dance contests, free-throw contests and cheerleading."
While sports may be at the forefront of this program, there are plenty of other things for young girls and adults to do on these hangout days.
From food to giveaways, there is a little bit of everything for everyone at a "Girls' Hangout Day." Other popular activities include kid jumpers, face painting, nail painting, tug-a-war, relay races, mom and daughter hula hoop and mom and daughter jump rope contests.
"Group activities are for everybody," Coach Love said. "This event is free, so you can't beat that."
If You Go
Free "National Women and Girls in Sports Day"
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1
Where: The Mosswood Recreation Center, 3612 Webster St. in Oakland