On November 2nd, a chilly Wednesday night, two Urban Initiatives schools, Nobel Elementary and Lloyd Elementary got together to cheer on their local collegiate soccer teams. Each school was cheering for a different team – Nobel for the UIC Flames and Lloyd for the Loyola Ramblers. The UIC Flames and the Loyola Ramblers, both with Horizon League berths still undecided, squared off for another game in their crosstown rivalry. Nobel Elementary, who just a week prior, sat in the stands to see UIC’s amazingly clutch finish in their victory over Wright St., was on hand to see if they could bring a little luck to their team a second time around. And Lloyd Elementary, who a week prior was on hand to see a great matchup between Valparaiso and Loyola, came showing their support hoping to see Loyola keep their Horizon League Championship berth alive.
Before the game started, Nobel conveniently wound up sitting with the few UIC supporters which were seated the furthest away from their rival cheering squad, Lloyd. As the game got started and the chilly wind picked up, emotions became a bit more subdued, but every few minutes, the prospect of a breakaway goal or a hard foul got our kids to their feet and cheering. But it wasn’t until about thirty minutes in, that a goal by Loyola got the kids from Lloyd jumping in the stands. Shortly after that, it was halftime, and one of the coolest moments of our fall season took place. Our kids, as well as other youth in the stands, took the field to run around and try their hand at scoring goals on their teammates and newly acquired friends. A couple kids even got a few tips from the “giant” soccer players from Loyola and UIC, and took a few passes from them as well.
The second half rolled around, and despite a few close moments for UIC at the end, it ended with the score 1-0, Loyola. Though one school obviously left with a few more smiles than the other, the children talked about how much fun they had all the way through the next week. And it wasn’t just a good night for our children. UIC rebounded by winning their next game, and made it to the post-season, and Loyola used that win to springboard themselves on a remarkable run, not only making it to the postseason, but winning the Horizon League Championship as well.
Urban Initiatives would like to thank both of these universities, their staff, and their incredible student athletes, who not only work hard on the field, but carry themselves with dignity and respect off of it. Their kindness and generosity towards Urban Initiatives’ kids are great examples of what it means to be an athlete, student, and citizen.