Even before Soccer for Success made its way to Auburn, Washington, PE teacher Travis Goodlett was beginning to see the game grow in popularity at Gildo Rey Elementary. As he watched students play during recess, and before and after school, Travis became inspired by his students’ love of the game. When presented with the opportunity to run a Soccer for Success program in 2012, Travis jumped at the chance. “I wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about at first, but I knew that if it was an opportunity to bring soccer to our kids, I wanted to be involved.”
As a long-time teacher at Gildo Rey, Travis was a natural choice for the head coaching position. Before assuming the role, Travis attended the Foundation’s National Coaches Training in Washington D.C – an experience that helped Travis to become not just a better coach, he says, but a better teacher. His deep involvement with the school community and his rapport with his students have translated exceptionally well onto the playing field. When Soccer for Success began at Gildo Rey three years ago, 30 kids were enrolled. Now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire Gildo Rey coaching staff, more than 50 students participate each season.
“Travis’ demeanor and attitude are consistently so positive and contagious,” says Rachel Wilton, Soccer for Success Community & Outreach Program Manager at Washington Youth Soccer. “He operates one of our most successful sites because of how much he cares, the mutual respect he has with his players, and the incredible mentorship he has given to the kids, that in cause, make them want to be better people.”
Together with his co-coaches, Travis strives to create a fun and supportive environment for his players, placing a strong emphasis on teamwork and confidence-building, both on and off the field. “For many of our kids, this is the first time they’ve ever been coached or had a coach, so it’s important that they learn to enjoy the game and not worry about making mistakes,” says Travis. “I’m always asking kids to think about what is going to help them succeed in the future. Not just in sports, but in school, too. I like to ask, ‘What’s going to help you graduate?’ or ‘What are some things you can do to position yourself for success?’”
As the program has grown at Gildo Rey, so too has the game’s popularity in the surrounding community. Nearby middle schools have recently launched their own soccer programs, meaning Travis’ students will have an opportunity to continue playing even after they graduate from Gildo Rey. Even Travis, who played soccer as a kid, is now playing more than ever before. “I play in a rec league now with my wife and the game is a lot harder than I remember! I’ve actually improved my own skills a lot just from working with the kids. I’ve learned more about the game as a coach than I ever did as a player.”
With the spring season just a few short weeks away, Travis is looking forward to getting back to work on the field with his players and his fellow coaches. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing the kids grow and mature into better athletes and better leaders.” He says. “My favorite thing about Soccer for Success is seeing the kids flourish. We have so many talented kids and this program gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise. It gives them a chance to play.”