After weeks of preparation, hours of inflating soccer balls, sorting jerseys and making school visits, the 2013-2014 Work to Play season officially kicked off at 26 schools! Hooray! As a newcomer to the program, this being my 5th week on the staff, I was a little overwhelmed by how much was going on. There was always something to do! As a suburban kid, I was anxious to see how soccer would take in the inner city. I had typically thought of it as a preppy type of sport in the United States. I was surprised to say the least.
While promoting the program at Providence Englewood Charter School (PECS), dozens of kids approached me, asking, “Are you the new soccer coach?” “When does soccer start?” Or simply stating, “I want to be on the soccer team”. That excitement has been shared throughout my cluster and the other schools participating in the Work to Play program. At both Marquette and Tarkington, soccer players were lining up for early morning practice, which starts at 7am, which blew my mind. When I was 9/10 years old, playing soccer at 7am was probably the last thing on my mind. I would even ask them, “Are you ready to play?”, half-expecting a barely audible, ‘yes’, or to not even hear me. To my surprise, they all scream ‘yes’!!!! At which point I have to remind them that they are still in the hallway and their voices should be at a level 0. But, that’s one of those good problems.
During practice is more of the same. Lots of EXCITEMENT. At Nobel, Alexis is always working on his ball control, trying to juggle every chance he gets. Sometimes even when Coach Goldstein is talking, to which I remind of Respect in our 5 finger contract and he responds back with a thumbs up. This usually happens a couple of times at practice with the same procedure. Again, one of those good problems. London, at Tarkington, was always eager to show me her Roll Back, and after showing me, she went right up to a few of her teammates that were struggling with it and helped them. Teamwork makes the dream work!
The excitement continues after practice as well, where players fight the urge to yell out the significance of TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More), our first week discussion focus. And afterwards, they get their snacks, which is another EXCITING time. So much so, that some children have developed dances for their snacks. My favorite is probably David’s, of PECS, apple dance. It kind of reminds me of one Deion Sanders’s touchdown celebrations, but David might do it better and with a bigger smile.
And so the 1st week of our Work to Play season came to a close. For a suburban kid, I had no idea that there were would be so much excitement about soccer in the inner city