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Soccer player puts her ideas to the test

Kristie Bowers, a goalkeeper for Binghamton’s Division I women’s soccer team, believes in the power of sports to change people’s lives.

Bowers, 20, began playing soccer as a 5 year-old and was a three-sport athlete throughout high school in the Rochester suburbs. She’s had many opportunities as a player and as a coach of youth teams to see the way children are changed by participating in sports.

This summer, Bowers, a human development major, is trying to experiment with her ideas about engaging young people in activities to see if she can make a difference in their lives. She’s working at a YMCA day camp outside Rochester. The camp, which serves atrisk and disadvantaged children, has a climbing tower and plenty of room for games.

“What I’m trying to show,” she said, “is that with a few particular activities, like cooperative games, we can reduce those risk factors.”

Bowers said some games have worked exactly the way she hoped; others were failures. Either way, she enjoys putting her ideas

into action and getting nearly instant feedback. “It’s an awesome opportunity to put the research I’ve been doing into practice,” she said.

Bowers, who also has minors in chemistry and biology, hopes to pursue a master’s degree in exercise science or sports nutrition after graduation in 2007.

But first, she has another soccer season to look forward to. Bowers, who was ranked fifth in the nation this year in save percentage, was on the team that claimed the America East conference title two years ago.

Coach Jeff Leightman said she’s both competitive and hard working. “Everything she does, she pours her heart and soul into and that’s a very admirable quality,” he said.

He encourages his players to consider themselves role models and coordinates volunteer opportunities for them. “Anybody in a visible role has the ability to provide leadership to the community,” Leightman said. “That’s a critical aspect of our program and a critical part of our responsibility in Binghamton.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08