Soccer for Success: My Home Away From Home

I am so blessed to say that I get to do what I love for a living. Since 2017 through the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s and the Independent Health Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, I’ve been able to call one of our sites at JH Williams Park my second home and safe space. As I reflect on the significance of my role and the mission of Soccer for Success, I think about my time as a coach-mentor at JH Williams Park.

Throughout life, I like to believe that we each have a purpose no matter where we are in life. Becoming a coach-mentor is one of those experiences, which has supported my growth personally and professionally. After being hired by Independent Health Foundation’s partner, Algonquin Sports for Kids, and finishing an amazing first season as a coach-mentor, I was placed at Independent Health
Foundation’s new outdoor site, JHW Park.

Here, I was one of four coach-mentors coaching a small group of participants as our program was fairly new to the Riverside/North Buffalo area. Instantly, I felt welcomed by this diverse community and was excited, eager, and passionate about supporting the success of our program. Every time I showed up at practice and game days, I witnessed each family celebrate one another and their children as if we were all one big family. A melting pot of cultures produced a wonderful union and safe space for all who stepped on the field.alana pictured in front of white house with soccer ball in red shirt and white hat

It’s because of this union that I have not missed a single outdoor season at JHW Park and have become the last original coach-mentor there. Soon after this first season, I became a site manager and a Local Trainer. In both roles, I’ve worked to ensure that each coach-mentor creates a safe space for everyone each season. I strive for everyone to feel the same way I did when I began my first season at JHW Park. During my time there, I’ve had the pleasure to witness many of our participants grow up, transition into different age groups, and even age out of Soccer for Success programming.

This program year, four long-term participants of mine who aged out of programming became junior coach-mentors! I’ve been so fortunate to witness their leadership shine throughout the many years they’ve been with me and use what they’ve learned throughout the program to become amazing coach-mentors to our participants. One junior coach-mentor, who has been with me from the beginning (and has now grown taller than me), has truly emerged from his shell from this experience. He was very apprehensive as to how he would grow into his role, but took each opportunity to arrive early to practice, ask every question he had, and listen intently to all feedback. On our last day of the season, I had to hold back tears as each junior coach-mentor received special leadership certificates to celebrate their growth.

team photo of children with their certificates at the soccer field

As I continue to reflect on how this last program year went, I couldn’t be prouder of my entire team of coach-mentors. From arriving to practice early to connect with our players, consistently bringing up new ideas to make our season better, always bringing an optimistic attitude, staying accountable, hanging back after practice to play even more soccer with our players until the sun goes down – these are moments that our players, their families, and I will always remember.

It’s not only the team aspects of my time that I will always hold dear – this is also a family. Parents and participants invite me to attend their school team games, participate in car-side birthday celebrations, attend weddings, and more – and I am honored by the connections that we’ve all built with this family of mine at JHW Park. As I have become a Project Coordinator of this program through the Independent Health Foundation and now a National Facilitator through the U.S. Soccer Foundation, these are the experiences that continue to fuel my passion and motive.

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adidas

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adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit adidas.com.

CHA

CHA

CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit chacompanies.com

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit SportsMatter.org.

Kwik Goal

Kwik Goal

Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit Kwikgoal.com.

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MLS WORKS

MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.

Musco

Musco

As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit https://ussoccerfoundation.org/grants/ to learn more about the grant program and application process.

SCORE Sports

SCORE Sports

SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit scoresports.com.

Soccer.com

Soccer.com

Soccer.com, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. Soccer.com embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit soccer.com.

 

 

 

Target

Target

Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

TGI Worldwide

TGI Worldwide

TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

For more information on our services, please visit https://www.worldwidetgi.com or contact Mike Squire at msquire@worldwidetgi.com / Phone: 312-371-5852.

World Soccer Shop

World Soccer Shop

Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit www.worldsoccershop.com.

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