HEAR FROM A COACH-MENTOR

Coaching for Success

Coach-Mentor Victoria's Story

For the past two years, I have worked with Soccer for Success as a coach-mentor. During that time, I’ve seen the program evolve to a truly transformative and engaging endeavor that is changing lives.

My work involves coaching 15 energetic and loving, 3rd- to 5th-grade girls of all differing soccer levels. I’ve played the sport since I was five and was raised with the mindset that “girls can do anything boys can do.” This is how I think about coaching during practice with these kids after school every day.

Many of the girls initially come to Soccer for Success hesitant and with the mentality that soccer is a “boy’s thing.” Through the games and teambuilding activities that are woven into the Soccer for Success curriculum, I have seen firsthand how these attitudes dissolve and confident competitors begin to emerge. My players’ confidence, though, barely scratches the surface of what really is an incredible transformation for many of these children.

Race is a very complicated issue in America, and this country’s playgrounds are not immune to this reality. I’ve witnessed tense conflicts among students during recess. Cliques form based on race, and slurs have even been hurled at these very young ages, even leading to physical fights. This is heartbreaking to see in elementary-age children. Soccer for Success has been a wonderful opportunity to unite these students who are often separated in their schools.

One day a player showed up for practice but realized that she felt very alone.

“I feel really uncomfortable. I’m the only black girl here,” she told me.

We entered into a rich discussion about culture and identity, and I asked her about some of her family’s traditions. I explained to her that this would be an opportunity for her not only to meet some new students and become friends, but also to learn about other cultures.

The impact of that exchange became clear a few practices later, when I had the players form teams based on their birthdays. Friends had to go into unfamiliar territory. The player who had felt such discomfort was there before me, comforting a friend who didn’t like these new teams.

“It’s OK,” she told her. “Just think of it as a way to get to know another culture.”

My heart melted. This program is about much more than coaching a sport, and this exchange illustrated one way this is true.

Soccer for Success is an incredible program.

I love hearing so many students excited for the soccer season to start. I love that interest continues to grow. I love how invested parents have become, to the point of two moms making soccer t-shirts for all 45 of our players. I love that players who are supposed to walk home after practice wait around until the last player has been picked up. Why? Because they want to stay with their coach-mentor and friends as long as possible. They cherish every minute. I love that teachers have told me how classroom behavior has been transformed because students have the incentive of soccer.

Finally, I love that at the end of an eight-hour workday when I am exhausted, drained and have been tested relentlessly, these two hours bring me back to life and remind me why I do what I do.

Our Partners

  • adidas

    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.

  • APT

    APT (Advanced Polymer Technology), the Foundation’s Partner for Acrylic Coating Products, is a global leader in high performance sports surfaces. APT provides people around the world with safe, reliable, performance enhancing surfaces. APT’s Laykold Masters acrylic surfacing system will be the official surface of an estimated 500 mini-pitches. For more information on APT, please visit www.sportsbyapt.com.

  • AstroTurf

    For athletes and soccer enthusiasts, AstroTurf® is redefining how synthetic soccer fields are built and perform. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of clubs, high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf’s LigaTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit the company’s recently redesigned website, www.astroturf.com/soccer. - See more at: https://ussoccerfoundation.org/article/astroturf-partners-with-the-u.s.-soccer-foundation-as-a-national-partner-for-field-building-program#sthash.FL8E8bAM.dpuf

  • 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

  • Hunter

    Hunter Industries, the Foundation's National Partner for Irrigation Equipment, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of irrigation equipment for turf, landscape and soccer fields.  Hunter Industries' focus is on landscape irrigation with a significant part of its business centering on the proper care and maintenance of sports turf. For more information, please visit hunterindustries.com. Please contact Lynda Wightman, 406-273-3073, lynda.wightman@hunterindustries.com with any questions regarding the U.S. Soccer Foundation's grants program.

  • 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.

  • Musco

    Musco Lighting, the Foundation's National Partner for Sports Lighting, has specialized in the design and manufacture of athletic field lighting for over 35 years.  Musco’s newest innovation, Light-Structure GreenTM, offers significant advantages for your budget and the environment — operating costs are cut in half, spill light is reduced by 50%, and 100% of your maintenance costs are covered for 25 years. To request your free copy of Sports Lighting: Answers to 7 Common Questions, please visit www.musco.com. Please contact Mike Shindler at mike.shindler@musco.com with any questions regarding the U.S. Soccer Foundation's grants program.

  • Nike

    NIKE, Inc., the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s National Partner for Athletic Apparel, supports the Foundation and its programs by providing Nike apparel to kids in underserved communities. Nike believes in the power of sport to unlock human potential and is committed to providing access to sport and physical activity  for kids to help set them up for success for life. For more information, please visit http://about.nike.com/pages/community-impact

  • 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, 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.

  • Sport Court

    Sport Court®, the Foundation's Supplier for Futsal Surfaces, has been the industry leader in modular athletic flooring for over 30 years. With more than 50,000 installations worldwide, and the largest and most experienced network of authorized dealers, Sport Court® delivers innovative, durable, high-performance solutions for a variety of sports and activities. For more information, please visit sportcourt.com. Please contact Joel McCausland at jmccausland@sportcourt.com for any questions regarding the U.S. Soccer Foundation's grants program.

  • 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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