Kailani, a Junior Raiderette and 5th grader, participated in Major League Baseball's Breaking Barriers Essay Contest in which students were asked to write about a barrier they faced in their lives and how they were able to overcome it. The contest, facilitated by each of MLB's teams, drew on Jackie Robinson's courage and ability to overcome MLB's color barrier and Kailani's essay focused on her experience as a Junior Raiderette.
The local student contributors were invited by the Oakland Athletics to Jackie Robinson Day at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and were able to experience first-hand what Jackie Robinson's breaking of barriers did for baseball and society.
Kailani wrote about her participation in the Junior Raiderettes program, which provides youngsters between the ages of 7-15 the opportunity to learn dance routines from the Raiderettes, Football's Fabulous Females. After numerous rehearsals, the Junior Raiderettes perform alongside the Raiderettes at two Raiders home games. The program motivates participants to believe in themselves and increase self-esteem and confidence.
The following is an excerpt from Kailani's essay explaining how the Junior Raiderettes helped her in "Breaking Barriers:"
"When I was a little girl I hated to go in front of people. It was really hard for me! My mom wanted to get me to do more things and not be so shy so she signed me up for Jr. Raiderettes so that I could cheer for the Raiders. At the first practice I was really scared! I was meeting new kids that came from two or three hours away so I had not met any of them before! After a few practices I met a girl my age and we became good friends! I was starting to feel more comfortable there. Soon everybody started commenting on how good I was doing at cheering! The next day was the performance and I was really nervous because over 30,000 eyes were on me but I knew I was not alone! I had 100 girls beside me that were feeling the same way!!! After the performance I was so excited! I had, had so much fun! After that day I became more confident in myself. So at my school I decided to run for president. I gave a speech in front of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and parents about how I would be a great president. But unfortunately I did not win. But, I was ok with it! I know that you can't win in everything. Now I am more confident in myself and I am trying new things! Jr. Raiderettes really changed my life!!!"
The following is a Q&A with Kailani about her Junior Raiderettes experience:
Raiders.com: What made you want to write the essay for the Breaking Barriers contest?
Kailani: Well, what made me want to write it about Raiderettes was because when I joined the Junior Raiderettes I was really shy and it just made me get more confidence in myself.
Raiders.com: What part of being in the Junior Raiderettes helped you overcome your shyness?
Kailani: Well, so when it was my first day there, at the first practice, I was just like, "Oh my gosh, I just want to go home, I don't really want to do this," because I didn't really think I could do the cheer and stuff but when I started to get it and I made a couple of friends there, I just started to get more confidence. I started talking to people there and the Raiderettes started to talk to me. So it was really fun.
Raiders.com: What was your favorite part of being a Junior Raiderette?
Kailani: I liked all the dances and the songs and also meeting new friends.
Raiders.com: When you and your classmates were writing the essays, did the teachers teach you about Jackie Robinson and did that help you get inspired to decide what to write about?
Raiders.com: After you wrote the essay, you got to go to the A's game. What was your favorite part about taking part in Jackie Robinson day?
Kailani: I thought it was really cool when everybody, all the A's players, were wearing the #42 jerseys and they were all participating in it. I thought that was really cool.