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Guest Opinion: Play Bernal

Local sports clubs helping spur private funding for sports complex under construction at Bernal Community Park

My daughter grew up a swimmer. I don't know what it is about swimmers, but for some reason, they need to get up at the crack of dawn and I remember getting up then as well, driving my daughter to and from practice and thinking -- why in the world am I doing this at this hour when even the birds are still asleep?

As difficult as it sometimes was to get up and out the door at that hour five mornings a week and then on weekends for swim meets during competition season, I now recognize its value in shaping who my daughter was to become, far beyond the reach of the swimming pool.

I imagine the same is true for every parent whose child plays a sport. We are blessed that Pleasanton is a family and sports-oriented city. We are an epicenter for all kinds of sports, aquatic and field alike. In recognition of this, we partnered with 10 local sports clubs to help accelerate the construction and spur private funding for the sports complex currently under construction as part of the Bernal Community Park.

Incredibly, there are over 8,000 youth participating in one sport or another here. As we already have our exceptional Aquatic Center for swimmers, we thought it would be appropriate to raise our game for the field sports in town too. The Bernal Community Park, located at the corner of Valley and Bernal Avenues, will be 16 acres and will include three lighted, synthetic, state-of-the-art, multipurpose sports fields, with all the amenities.

The preliminary construction work is being done now -- grading and leveling -- but when complete, around the fall of 2016, the sports fields will be able to accommodate football, lacrosse, rugby and soccer. In addition to being able to host just about any field sport you can conjure up, these fields will be the only ones you don't have to water!

A few weeks ago, the participating sports clubs launched their "Play Bernal" campaign as a way to raise funds to help offset the costs of our new state-of-the-art synthetic, multipurpose fields. The clubs' shared mission is to cultivate an active lifestyle for kids whose time and attention seems to be captivated more and more by what's moving on a computer screen or a smartphone.

Athletics and the need for them is much more than just the physical activity, though in and of itself that would be enough to justify supporting efforts such as this one given the obesity epidemic in our country. But we know athletics are a metaphor for life. They teach kids (and some parents) much-needed life skills like how to win graciously, how to lose that way too, how to be a part of a team, how to be teachable and to learn from others. Organized sports can truly be this important in a child's life.

We're very excited to a part of this innovative partnership with local sports groups to encourage active lifestyles and promote important life lessons in teamwork and commitment for kids in Pleasanton. And to help every child to simply have safe fun. We hope you'll consider supporting "Play Bernal."

To find out more about how you can support this effort, go to www.playbernal.org.

Editor's note: Jerry Thorne, now serving his second two-year term as mayor of Pleasanton, is a retired corporate executive with more than 40 years in the private sector. He also served for 10 years on the city's Parks & Recreation Commission.

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