Come to a women’s volleyball match this season and you may run into a basketball player. Go to a men’s soccer game and you may find one of Cal’s football players in the stands at Edwards Stadium.
There is a new culture being fostered across Cal’s athletics community, one of inclusion and support. The athletic department has resurrected an old program called “Bear Days,” where each sports program on campus picks one of its games, matches or meets and invites the rest of Cal’s teams to attend.
The program kicks off Wednesday with The Big Spike, the annual volleyball match between Cal and Stanford.
“It builds a sense of community across sports,” Cal director of student-athlete affairs Paul Savage said. “They are their most relatable peers, but their time is so structured, the truth is there’s not enough time for them to get to know each other.”
The program was previously in place at Cal but discontinued about 10 years ago. It was brought back in earnest during the first week of this semester at the annual Big C Welcome Barbecue when each student-athlete received a T-shirt that lists each program’s “Bear Day” for the upcoming school year.
Attending Bear Days is one way teams can earn points from the athletic department for their participation in community building across athletics and the external campus. Points are also awarded for athletic and academic success, and the teams with the most invested are recognized at the Oskis, the year-end awards ceremony for Cal athletics.
“The idea is we are all in this together,” Savage said. “The tone is that every student-athlete is of one department.”
The next Bear Day will be the women’s soccer game against UCLA on Oct. 13.