UCSB Women's Soccer Assists Elementary Students With Project

May 5, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team recently assisted first, second, and third grade students from the Montessori Center School in Goleta with an assignment that was part math/physics and part cultural. The assistance was another example of the Gauchos Give community outreach initiative.

The math/physics element of the project looked at the distance a soccer ball travels in relationship to the angle at which it is kicked.

"The kids realized that if they kicked the ball high, it didn't go very far," began UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. "They experimented with the different distance based on where and how and where the ball was kicked."

The cultural portion of the project had to do with the relationship between modern-day soccer and ulama, a ball game played in a few communities in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The game is descended from the Mayan version of the Mesoamerican ballgame, one of the oldest continuously played sports in the world, which was played in Central America as well as areas of Mexico.

"Ulama was one of the first team sports played with a ball," said Gerardo Aldaña, an Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB and the parent of a daughter in the class. "Not only was it one of the first games played with a ball, but it was the first played with balls made of rubber, a substance indigenous to those areas of southern Mexico and Central America."

"This was a fun experience for the kids and for the players on our team," Stumpf said. "It was a good opportunity for us to give back to our community and learn at the same time."