Beyond Saturday School
We have been working with the Buffalo Public School Community Schools programs for three years now. Often, when we go into a location with the soccer program, we are in communities where soccer has a lot of support already. Many of the kids are familiar with the game, love to play, and are able to do many things on the field. Sometimes though, we get kids who are not soccer players already. They are excited to learn and while probably intimidated a bit by their peers, willing to jump into the group and try. On Saturdays, these are often our favorite kids. The ones who are willing to be brave, go outside of their comfort zones and try something new at a time when the peer pressure to conform and stay with what you know is so strong.
Watching these kids struggle to keep up, noticing how their peers help and guide them through the game patiently helping them to learn new skills, and seeing the smile as they learn something is always rewarding. It is in those moments that our athletes are growing and learning the skills that will help them be successful in their futures.
Sometimes though...sometimes it is what happens beyond Saturday that can be exciting. Recently, Coach Teddy and I were walking downtown discussing plans for an upcoming coaching training, when a voice called out "Coach Teddy!". This happens often when Teddy and I are walking around. A young man walked up and let "Coach Teddy" know that because he had tried soccer in the Saturday program, he was able to try out for his high school soccer team and he made it. He spent the summer working on the skills and moves "Coach Teddy" had taught him and now he was good enough to make his high school team.
Here's the thing- he didn't decide to play soccer when he was little. He didn't spend years practicing one sport. He tried something new in middle school and realized he liked it. He had a supportive adult and group of peers who helped him grow and learn new skills. Now he is entering high school and is instantly a part of a community. He took a chance, learned something new and grew as a person. These are the skills and qualities adults look for everyday. We are all proud of this young man and the potential he has in the future.