Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative
Female athletes can change the world.
BAWSI Founders: Julie Foudy, Marlene Bjornsrud and Brandi Chastain
This is the clear vision at the heart of the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI), which was founded in 2005 and has since called thousands of female athletes to use their platform for good, reaching far beyond the borders of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Disappointment drove BAWSI’s founding, but a defining sense of purpose and service made it flourish into an international example of service and sport.
In the afterglow of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, widely regarded as the most successful women’s sporting event in history, female athletes not only found a new place in the sports landscape, but their voice as well.
Even as the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the league created in the afterglow of 1999′s extraordinary success, folded after three seasons in 2003, U.S. women’s soccer team stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy longed to maintain the deep community connections that were the league’s hallmark. The two stars joined with Marlene Bjornsrud, former general manager of the WUSA’s inaugural champ San Jose CyberRays, along with a group of community and sports leaders to begin work on the concept for BAWSI (pronounced “bossy”).
BAWSI’s founders wanted to harness the power of female athletes to impact society and give them an opportunity to connect through authentic, intentional service. With its first initiative, BAWSI aimed to do this by providing opportunities to serve young girls who weren’t being exposed to organized sports, or physical education classes, and to reach girls in communities where obesity and diabetes were prevalent.
In May of 2005, BAWSI was born as a 501c3 non-profit organization.
In the eight years since, BAWSI has engaged more than 3,000 female athletes who have served more than 16,000 students, covering a 75-mile stretch north and south of San Jose. BAWSI has engaged athletic departments, and served as a resource and a beacon for similar programs around the country, raising more than $3 million to fund multiple initiatives and has been recognized by the White House and the International Olympic Committee.