Every Sunday I volunteer as an assistant coach for inner city kids who want to learn how to play soccer. I work with kids from all age groups and help them develop their skills as soccer players. In comparing my own experience learning how to play the game I realized just how privileged I was and how uncommon it is to be able to afford professional coaching nearly every day for over 13 years of my life. As I watched the kids grow as soccer players I felt proud and happy that I was able to help give these kids an opportunity to develop. This is now the third year that I am a coach, and over the course of these past three years I have watched as the kids have grown from playground players to players capable of playing in a competitive match. This has been an incredibly fulfilling experience that allowed me to use my experience to help others.
Over the summer the boys varsity soccer team went on a service trip in Tobago. Our coaches, Warren and Sherwin, are from Tobago and we were therefore able to immerse ourselves into the culture of the island. We visited many of the beautiful sites on the island, my favorite of which was a set of waterfalls that we were able to swim in. We were also allowed to jump into the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls which made for an incredible experience. We also swam, hiked, and played tons of soccer. We played against many top teams that got us ready for the season ahead. We spent five days there allowing me to form a close bond with many of my teammates. The most important part of the trip and most morally rewarding was when we ran clinics for the kids there. At first, I did not expect to have so much fun running the clinics as I wouldn’t be playing myself, but in the end I had so much fun getting to know the kids. At the end of the clinics we organized cleats that we would end up giving out to those who participated. Seeing how happy they got when they received their new cleats was an incredible experience for me. We worked with St. Claire’s Coaching School and Bishop’s High School when running these clinics. This trip was very rewarding because we were able to get ready for the big season ahead physically and also able to train and give equipment to the kids there.
This year, I spent five hours of my Sunday afternoon coaching underprivileged kids in Chinatown. This opportunity was presented to me through my former coach from when I was about 8 years old, showing how important it is to stay in contact with people you are close to. This was the type of connection that I was striving to have with my students. I am glad to say that through teaching I was able to achieve a connection beyond the soccer world with the children. At the start of the year, most of the kids came in without actually having much skill. Some kids were more advanced than others and so one of the challenges of coaching was trying to make the less skillful kids better while still helping the more advanced soccer players continue to improve. I can gladly say that now, at the end of the year, all the kids have improved. It has been great to watch and fun to help these kids gain a new skill that they can continue to improve upon in the future, with or without my help. Therefore, I loved the whole experience that I had working as a coach and am glad that I can do it next year as well.
This year I participated in ypi. My group’s organization was Gigi’s playhouse. When I went to visit, I learned that people with Down syndrome are just like me. This new idea was contrary to my prior thoughts. At the beginning of the year I thought that people with Down syndrome weren’t as intelligent as me. I realized after learning more that this preconception had to be chang. While presenting my topic I learned how to voice my opinions better and organize my thoughts in a cohesive way. The most challenging part of this project was getting together with my teammates. The most rewarding part of of the ypi presentation was the actual presentation and the amount of attention that the audience had. One way I could remain engaged with my non profit would be to do volunteer work.