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Girls Sports Expo draws nearly 500 in Santa Rosa

  • Guilianna Facciano, 8, tries out long jumping while Molly Barlett watches her technique during the 16th Annual Girls Sports Expo, in Santa Rosa, on Sunday, January 27, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Eight-year-old Sophia Heinrich yelled "ha-yah!" and kicked a padded target Saturday during a taekwondo class at Santa Rosa Junior College.

It was the first time the Brook Hill Elementary School third-grader had ever tried martial arts. And from the look on her face, you could tell she was loving it.

"It's really fun," said the Santa Rosa resident as she caught her breath in a padded studio with 30 other girls. "It's my favorite thing so far."

Girls Sports Expo In Santa Rosa

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Heinrich was among the nearly 500 girls who turned out for the 16th annual Girls Sports Expo, held on the junior college and Santa Rosa High School campuses.

The event offered girls 8-12 a chance to sample a variety of athletic activities, including lacrosse, tennis, swimming, hip-hop dancing and two types of martial arts.

Organizer Penny Hastings said the goal is to introduce girls to sports they may not be exposed to in grade school so they will be more likely to participate in their teens.

"Girls this age don't have a lot of sports experience," said Hastings, whose event was sponsored by the Girl Scouts. "We want to get them to try new things."

They did exactly that.

In a high school gymnasium, two dozen girls donned fencing gear and squared off amid the sound of clanging metal.

Arynn Valdez, 11, of Santa Rosa, crossed foils with Raeli Baker-March, 12, also of Santa Rosa. Valdez said she enjoyed doing some-thing that's not like soccer and basketball.


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