A Team 15 Years in the Making

Lackawanna Middle School in Lackawanna, NY did not have a soccer team. In fact, it hadn’t had team for 15 years.

Although the students at Lackawanna and the surrounding community had a rich passion for the game of soccer, the school did not have a team due to a lack of funding. Without one, students were left with few options for after-school soccer programming.

To fill the void, the Independent Health Foundation, Buffalo Soccer Club, and the YWCA of Buffalo brought Soccer for Success to the school. Together, they wanted to bring a safe place for the student body to play soccer and also use the sport to help address some of the issues the students were having in school, such as behavioral and social issues.

When Soccer for Success began in February, it was clear that the students were eager to be there. With programming running three times a week, students consistently attended. For many, it was their first time playing on an organized team. For others, it was an opportunity to leave the stress of the school day behind and play the game they love.

“A lot of the students came because they did not want to go home after school,” said Kendra Durden, the Extended School Day Program Director at the YWCA of Buffalo. “The program provides a supportive space where the kids have really enjoyed themselves.”

As the season continued, teachers noticed how Soccer for Success was impacting their students. They were motivated and present in class so they could participate in soccer practice after school, and their behavior improved.

Soccer for Success has been very beneficial to the students of Lackawanna, specifically with helping to resolve behavior problems,” said Kendra. “The growth in all of the kids has been quite remarkable.

The teachers of Lackawanna used their students’ successes and dedication to the after-school soccer program as their motivating factor to petition the Teachers Union to fund a school soccer team.

“The group of teachers who went to the Union pushed hard for the team,” said Kendra. “They pushed for full funding of the team, including new jerseys, equipment, and support for the school’s athletic department.”

After petitioning the Union, the teachers of Lackawanna Middle School succeeded in receiving funding for a soccer program. For the first time in 15 years, there would be a Lackawanna Middle School soccer team.

“These teachers believed their students deserved the opportunity to represent their school and their community,” said Anna-Lesa Calvert, Executive Director at Buffalo Soccer Club. “It speaks volumes not only to the motivation of the teachers, but also to the benefits and impact that Soccer for Success can have.”

Now with Soccer for Success and an organized school team, the students at Lackawanna Middle School have soccer programming year-round.

“It is exciting for them to represent their community on the school team,” said Anna-Lesa. “And when the school season ends, they know we’re here to support them and provide soccer through Soccer for Success.”

Not only did Soccer for Success provide soccer to the students of Lackawanna, but it also created impactful opportunities for students to flourish, and brought the community together.

Learn more about Soccer for Success and how it can impact your community here.


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