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Sunday, October 23, 2016

DC SCORES Fall Frenzy delivers nonstop activity for over 1,000 kids

The day began in complete darkness, just an empty soccer field in NE Washington, DC. It ended with the same empty bed of green grass under a blue sky pocked with the puffiest of clouds.

In between 6:30am and 2:30pm, something happened. Something really BIG.

The 19th Annual DC SCORES Fall Frenzy took over the athletic fields at Trinity Washington University Saturday, bringing nonstop soccer games and a host of other sports and arts activities to more than 1,000 elementary school program participants.

The day began with two and a half hours of setup, was followed by a call-and-response with all the teams at 9:20am, and then a 1-2-3 DC SCORES!!! And action.

From there, every DC SCORES team -- all kids and coaches proudly wearing their jerseys, the colors ranging from neon pink, to dark blue, from neon green, to yellow, you get the point; the teams covered the spectrum -- rotated between activities.

Six soccer games at a time were played on the main Trinity field. Up the hill, two more games were conducted at a time. And down the hill, on the lower level, teams switched between an event-record 11 stations all run by DC SCORES program partners and volunteers.

Relay races. Dodgeball. A soccer skills station. Poetry writing. Coloring and drawing. The shooting accuracy station. Facepainting. Picture-taking with D.C. United mascot Talon. And even autographs with DCU players Charlie Horton and Chris Korb.

The event wouldn't have been at all possible without the incredible support of 160-plus volunteers, many representing the dozens of SCORES partner groups who came out to help. From Safeway's huge truck arriving in the morning to deliver loads of water bottles, to AmeriHealth DC's table with lots of healthy goodies for the kids, to the George Washington Swim & Dive team -- the entire team -- picking up trash all over the grounds and breaking down goals to aid a quick exit after the kids were gone, our partners basically ran Fall Frenzy.

Here's a full list of Fall Frenzy partners. Thank you again!
CBRS American University
City Kids
Clark Construction
D.C. United
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Discovery Education
Edmund Burke School
Kappa Alpha Theta
The Field School
GWU Phi Delta Psi
GWU Men's Swimming and Diving
GWU Men's Soccer
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Howard University Alpha Phi Omega
November Project DC
Promontory Financial Group
Revolution Foods
Trinity Washington University

If you asked any kid their favorite part of Fall Frenzy, you'd likely get a different answer. Many, of course, said the soccer. They relished the chance to not just play, but take on new teams from all over Washington, DC (during our regular game days, teams don't travel too far for games because of late school dismissals and traffic). Others loved the relay races. Others showed off their "Messi" facepainting. And at the end of the day, kids rushed to the table where Horton and Korb sat, handing them shoes and anything elee for autographs. Talon, obviously, was another big hit.

The action-packed day left kids, and their families, exhausted as the field quickly cleared at 2:30pm, the goals, booths and people gone within 30 minutes. By 3pm, it was as if nothing had even happened.

Those who experienced it know much better. Here's some photo evidence.


  • 1,000+ kids
  • 160+ volunteers
  • 96 soccer games
  • 22 partner groups 
  • 11 activity booths
  • 1 mascot 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Alumni perspective: Darren Whetstone reflects on DC SCORES experience

Darren Whetstone is a DC SCORES alumna, who participated in the program at Bunker Hill Elementary School from 2002 - 2005. She is a graduate from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Currently, she works as a Communications Associate for a global nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. In her spare time, Darren enjoys interior design blogging, catching a D.C. United game at RFK Stadium, and spending time with her family.

Darren Whetstone
Guest Blogger

In 2002, I noticed a loudspeaker announcement made for students on the soccer team to head down to the main office so they could go to a game. Being a fan of the Washington Freedom, I thought I was the next Mia Hamm. So I signed up, but I didn’t know this small decision would change my life.

When I first started with DC SCORES’ Bunker Hill Beavers, I thought I would look cool as a striker — I could just score all the goals like Mia and the other kids would like me. Every practice I worked on just my bicycle kicks and punts, but that’s not how a team works.

When I moved to a different position as a defender, I was devastated (but secretly glad because I have really bad asthma). My coach, Barbara Ricks, made me focus on passing. She taught me that a good team isn’t going to play as well as its best player; a team is going to do well by playing as a team. Even if we didn’t win, we still played as one. My coach taught me plenty of more lessons over the next three years, but three stand out to me the most. The most important are don’t be a sore loser, becoming a captain isn’t just a title handed to you, and hard work brings great results.

Don’t be a sore loser
We had won our playoff game and were cheerfully getting back on the bus when two players from the opposing team made it point to come to the bus. I thought that they were coming to congratulate use again, but that wasn’t the case. They proceeded to make an inappropriate pose. It took less than a minute for all of the team to hop off the bus and chase the kids down the street. We caught up to them and brought them back to the coach so they could apologize. My coach told them that, “When you’re a part of a team, you’re not just representing you, you’re representing your team, your school, and your family. You don’t want to disappoint them, so be mindful of what you do.”

Becoming a captain isn’t just a title handed to you
In the fifth grade, I had been one of the longest-playing members on the team, so I assumed I would be one of the captains. I was wrong. My coach picked someone else and I was heartbroken. After practice, I complained and she said, “Being a leader doesn’t mean you can call the shots when you’re on the field. You have to be able to be a someone your team can depend on. You can’t just be a captain, you have to earn it.” The next season, I was voted captain.

Hard work brings great results
You don’t win a soccer game by just kicking a ball around a field. You win by working hard on your skills. My coach remarked, “If you set a goal, you have to work hard in order to succeed. That means, if you want to be better, keep practicing, but — don’t forget to have fun; great results also include you having a good time!”

Unfortunately, my time with DC SCORES ended when I entered middle school. However, I never forgot the lessons I learned. In fact, I still use these lessons to this day, nearly 10 years later. DC SCORES helped me become a better person with great soccer skills. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and how it’s shaped my life.

Thanks DC SCORES — you’re the real MVP.

Monday, October 17, 2016

DC SCORES Covers DC: Truesdell Education Campus, Ward 4

As DC SCORES has grown over the past several years -- from 20 schools, to adding middle schools in 2006, to 27 schools, then 42, and now to 60 sites, including several recreation centers that make up the first-ever DC City Soccer League -- we've expanded our reach across Washington, DC. And now we serve 2,200 kids in neighborhoods throughout the entire city -- meaning all eight wards. This fall, we'll bring to you a highlight program in each ward.

Last week, we visited Truesdell Education Campus located in Ward 4. Truesdell is a large campus, including about 700 kids from grades PK-8. We were lucky enough to visit Truesdell last Thursday for its elementary team's game day against Powell Elementary, and everyone around the school was buzzing with excitement.

Truesdell is a unique DC SCORES site because the school has three separate SCORES programs: Morning SCORES, Junior SCORES, and DC SCORES (both elementary and middle). Morning SCORES takes place before school starts, where students choose to come to practice soccer and get their energy out before the academic day begins. Having students attend Morning SCORES has improved attendance levels at Truesdell. DC SCORES has regular programming for grades 3-8, starting after Truesdell's mandatory extended day. DC SCORES added the middle school program in 2014 because of how popular the elementary program had become, with kids wanting to continue after fifth grade.

With such a widespread program at Truesdell -- funded through OSSE's 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant -- DC SCORES has a staff position dedicated to managing the program that's held by Will Sutton.

Barnard Elementary School (2013)
Brightwood Education Campus — Elementary (2002)
Brightwood Education Campus — Middle (2014)
Capital City Public Charter School — Elementary (2012)
Capital City Public Charter School — Middle (2012)
Imagine Hope — Lamond Campus (2016)
LaSalle-Backus Education Campus (2014)
MacFarland Middle School (2007)
Powell Elementary School (2012)
Raymond Education Campus — Elementary (2007)
Raymond Education Campus — Middle (2014)
Truesdell Education Campus — Elementary (2000)
Truesdell Education Campus — Middle (2014)
Upshur Recreation Center (2016)

Truesdell FUN FACTS
Year DC SCORES started: 2000
Ward: 4
Team mascot: Trojans
Uniform color: Light Blue
Elementary School Coaches: Soccer -- Rudolpho Ulloa, Will Sutton, Kristen Paonessa, Annick Thompson; Poetry -- Emily Adams, Cailin Eisele
Middle School Coaches: Soccer -- Charles Robinson, Adam Zimmermann; Poetry -- Leah Myers, Tequilla Thomas
2016 service-learning projects: The elementary school program started a best buddies reading program with younger students. The middle school kids created a memorial to a peer of theirs, Kayla, who passed away.

Charles Robinson, who is the dean of students, has worked at Truesdell for nearly two decades, and has coached DC SCORES since the beginning, on how working with the children affects him:

"I'm proud to be a member of such a great organization. I get more out of it than the children do. Just to sit back and see the community rally around the Trojans of Truesdell makes me feel good and gives me the energy to go home and be me. That's me!"

Will Sutton, DC SCORES coach and staff member, on his experience in the program:

"We teach them about leadership and sportsmanship and how they can really be good people when they grow up. We love working with these kids, and their excitement is really a testimony to what we do here at DC SCORES and what the kids really love."

"My experience in DC SCORES is really fun. This school is so great. Who wouldn't want to be here? My coaches are great. Lots of fun going around this school, lots of excitement!" -April A., 10



12.3.2015 -- Students take audience down 'Hope Avenue' during inspiring Westside Poetry Slam!
5.11.2015 -- Creating change at Truesdell, Part VI: Committee work


12.2.2015 -- DC SCORES Poetry Slam! -- Truesdell Education Campus, Middle

11.18.2015 -- Coach profile: Charles Robinson, veteran coach

6.2.2015 -- Creating change at Truesdell, part VIII: Reflecting on success

5.15.2014 -- DC SCORES Game of the Week: Bancroft at Truesdell

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bonding with the Bears, Part II: Meet the Coaches

Every week this fall we will be visiting the Barnard Bears during poetry sessions and soccer games to document the progress of the Bears. Follow along to see how students develop their writing and soccer skills, and how the team comes together. We will bring you individual poet-athletes' stories in addition to stories about the team as a whole. Follow along our journey with the Bears on Twitter @DCSCORESInterns & Instagram @DC_SCORES.


Written by Elaine Lu
Communications Intern

Last week, we got to meet Ms. Jackson and Ms. Saffar, both teachers at Barnard Elementary. Today, we'll touch base with the other two coaches who work with the Bears.

Hannah Ehlers and Lindsey Sharp are both members of the small, tight-knit DC SCORES staff, which makes coaching even more meaningful to them. While Hannah and Lindsey spend their mornings in the office, they travel to Barnard in the afternoons.

During my time with both coaches, it's evident that this experience is meaningful to them not only because of the difference their making on kids' lives but also because of the impact the kids have on them.

"Coaching gives me an opportunity to share something that I'm personally passionate about with kids who may or may not have access to or knowledge of the sport," Lindsey said. "I also love seeing a player's growth of technique throughout the season and additional interest in not only a new hobby, but a physically active one."

Hannah comes to school on Mondays and Wednesdays for poetry programming, while Lindsey comes on Tuesdays and Fridays for soccer practice and Thursdays for their weekly game, which is almost every student's favorite day of the week.

I was fortunate enough to get to ride on the DC SCORES-provided bus to Barnard's first game, and the energy was through the roof. Keeping the kids in their seats was a struggle because everyone was jumping up and down with excitement. Coach Lindsey taught them a cheer in Spanish that they recited over and over again during the ride: "Vamos los Osos!," each child screamed at the top of his or her lungs.

I could see the light in their eyes. This cheer resonated especially with a few children, who had difficulty speaking or understanding English. For some, this was the first time I had seen them completely in their comfort zone.

Lindsey has a great deal of experience coaching soccer, and she's has found that her favorite thing is "seeing the kids make improvements throughout the season and their excitement when they finally master a specific soccer skill."

Hannah has done an incredible job helping the Bears grow. Each week, I see each poet-athlete become more comfortable writing. Some kids who wouldn't speak a word a couple weeks ago are now the most talkative ones in the classroom. Others, who would hide behind their friends, now are the most eager ones to share what they have created in programming.

"I love coaching poetry because it gives students a creative outlet that they don't always have otherwise," Hannah said. "It gives students the freedom to express themselves -- we talk about how they are feeling and what they love and then they get to write about it in unique ways. I love seeing the work that students create and the progress they make. Their curiosity and creativity never cease to amaze me. "

Coaches Lindsey, Hannah, and Ms. Saffar have all done amazing jobs thus far with the kids. The Barnard Bears couldn't be luckier!

Stay tuned for more to come from the Bears!

Monday, October 10, 2016

DC SCORES covers DC: Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Ward 6

As DC SCORES has grown over the past several years -- from 20 schools, to adding middle schools in 2006, to 27 schools, then 42, and now to 60 sites, including several recreation centers that make up the first-ever DC City Soccer League -- we've expanded our reach across Washington, DC. And now we serve 2,200 kids in neighborhoods throughout the entire city -- meaning all eight wards. This fall, we'll bring to you a highlight program in each ward.

The series continues with Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Ward 6. Though this is only the second year that DC SCORES has been at Amidon-Bowen, the school quickly embraced the program and participation has grown exponentially. Coach Carlos Granados predicts that especially soccer will increase in popularity in the school community when D.C. United's new new soccer stadium is built in the neighborhood.

The team is motivated by its coaches, and it is evident that the children hold a great deal of admiration for them. All of the coaches command a great amount of respect and do an incredible job shaping these young poet-athletes.

Amidon Elementary School (2015)
Eliot-Hine Middle School (2014)
Jefferson Middle School (2012)
Miner Elementary School (2013)
Payne Elementary School (2015) 

Amidon-Bowen FUN FACTS
Year DC SCORES started: 2015
Ward: 6
Team mascot: Tigers
Uniform color: orange
Coaches: Soccer -- Leevon Floyd, Carlos Granados; Poetry -- Kenisha Pecot, Leevon Floyd
2016 service-learning project: Beautified a neighborhood park through painting, picking up trash, and gardening.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve built here. I’m really proud of what it’s become. I’m thankful to DC SCORES for letting me give back to my community.”
 - Carlos Granados, a former Amidon-Bowen student & current DC SCORES soccer coach

"Poetry allows me to interact with students that I do not have the opportunity to see and also bond and build relationships."
- Kenisha Pecot, poetry coach & teacher at Amidon-Bowen

"Our teachers Ms. Pecot and Coach Lee help us with lines, stanzas, and line breaks so we can be successful in poetry." - Martin W., 10

"DC SCORES makes our school proud." - Dominique W., 11



10.1.15 -- D.C. United Soccer Club consolidates with DC SCORES (which brought Amidon in)


12.3.15: Amidon performs at Poetry Slam! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

DC SCORES debuts City Soccer League today

For the past 21 years on Thursday afternoons across Washington, DC, elementary school kids have taken to neighborhood soccer fields for DC SCORES game day. They've proudly worn matching T-shirts with DC SCORES on the front and their school name on the back.

There's a reason Thursday is the favorite day of the week for the majority of our third- through fifth-grade poet-athletes. 

For the past 10 years, the same can be said for our middle school poet-athletes on Friday afternoons. We've consistently run the only public and public charter soccer league for students in grades sixth through eighth across the District. A handful of schools without our program have paid to participate in the league each year because of its reputation and organization and the opportunity it provides. 

And now, beginning this afternoon, we are adding Wednesday game day!

Today, in partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, is our first "City Soccer League" game day for recreation center sites in our program. Across the District, eight recreation centers will meet for games set in the same format as our elementary school leagues.

The co-ed games will be led by DC SCORES staff members. Sportsmanship and learning will be stressed above all else. And, of course, having fun and embodying our values -- teamwork, leadership and commitment -- will be emphasized too. 

Adding several recreation centers to our programming first and foremost allows us to serve more DC kids in need, providing after-school programming and the game day experience for kids who don't attend DC SCORES schools or are at schools with overflowing interest in the program. 

You can view our list of DC SCORES sites and league partners online here, and check out the full game day schedule for the season here.

Let the games begin!