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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alumni profile: With DC SCORES' support, doors open for Ana Galeas



Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

When Ana Galeas joined DC SCORES as a third-grader at Raymond Education Campus in 2006, there was one reason.

Soccer.

Now, 10 years later, here is Ana, 18, speaking for six consecutive minutes about the program in front of 150 people at a Brookings Institute event in her hometown of Washington, DC. Ana sits alongside the likes of former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter.

She only mentions soccer a couple times during the testimonial to the program she’s been involved in for a decade.

“DC SCORES has helped me a lot starting with helping me be a better leader, helping me to be a mentor to little kids and reminding myself that I was one of those little kids,” Ana says.

“When you see them smile you just remind yourself that it’s something that you’re helping them in.”

Ana is poised, comfortable and confident. She laughs along with the other panelists when talking about kids using disposable cameras -- they still exist! -- at camp. She describes how important it is for kids her age to serve as mentors for younger youth. She uses nonverbals -- learned during her DC SCORES poetry performance sessions -- to communicate her points, and nods in agreement with things the others say. She barely mentions soccer.

Even if one didn’t know Ana before July 14, 2016, it’d be clear after hearing her speak that she’s a well-rounded, confident young woman ready to take the next step.

This fall, Ana will attend Montgomery College. But first, she has a couple weeks left of leading kids at DC SCORES summer camp. This is her fourth year as a Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) counselor for SCORES.

From left: Rising sophomore at Trinity University, Ingrid Melendez, alumnae soccer coach Asa Davis, and Ana.

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Ana grew up in DC with soccer. Her father, originally from El Salvador, was the president of a local soccer team that played matches every weekend. Ana would tag along with her older sister to games, watching intently from the sidelines.

Because of academics, Ana’s mother held her back for a year in third grade. Her second time through, Ana joined DC SCORES because she wanted to play soccer. Her grades improved, and she loved the feeling of being on a team.

In fifth grade, Ana moved from defender to goalie and wasn’t good at first -- “I remember my first time playing goalie, they made like 20 goals. I was so bad,” Ana says now laughing -- but stuck with it and enjoyed playing the position. But then the year was over, and Raymond at the time did not have middle school programming. All of a sudden, Ana was without the team and opportunity to continue playing and improving her skills.

Sixth and seventh grade were rough for Galeas socially.

“Those were two years when I really fell off,” she says. “I just went to school and came back home. I didn’t do nothing.”

Galeas transferred to Lincoln Middle School in eighth grade, in part so she could participate in DC SCORES again. She missed the sport, the camaraderie. She didn’t play goalie at Lincoln, instead taking on her third position, forward, and she bonded with her new teammates.

Additionally, that year was when for the first time in her life, her parents were able to attend a game of hers. Galeas’ mother had never been fond of her playing soccer, as it’s never been a cultural norm for Latinas. That game day helped change her perception.

“They were like, ‘You could have done better,’” Ana says with a chuckle of what her parents told her afterward, referring to a play when she fell down, “but then at the same time they were like, ‘I’m really proud of you that you did something.’”

That could have been the end, and a nice one at that, of Ana’s DC SCORES story. But really, it was just the beginning.

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During her lone year at Lincoln, Ana met Popsie Lewis -- a fixture in the school community and the longtime boys soccer coach. When Ana moved to the other side of the Columbia Heights Education Campus building to attend Bell Multicultural High School, she kept in touch with Popsie and frequently saw the girls still on the Lincoln team.

In ninth grade, Ana learned that the team needed an assistant coach. She jumped at the opportunity. She also began refereeing elementary school games on Thursday afternoons at nearby Tubman. Not only was she satisfying her service hours requirement, an essential obligation as she began to look toward college; Ana was also imparting her knowledge from several years of SCORES on a group of girls that could be hard-headed but listened to their peer.

Ana (second from left) with other DC SCORES alumni who became certified referees. 
Ana told the girls about the importance of getting service hours in high school. She made sure they attended poetry sessions, a requirement for them to play in games. She celebrated with them after winning the Capital Cup middle school championship.

With each year of coaching, Ana’s confidence rose along with others’ trust in her. She was becoming a leader, both on and off the field. Even as Ana took up rugby in 10th grade and began traveling every weekend for games, she continued to coach Lincoln and even helped lead poetry sessions in 11th grade.

“I feel like it was important to me to be with them,” Ana says now.

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DC SCORES was there for Ana beyond Lincoln’s soccer field and classroom, too. During 11th grade, she was nominated VP of the Alumni Leadership Board. With peers from throughout DC, she planned and ran events such as the highly successful annual soccer tournament. She served as a conduit for other former poet-athletes to stay engaged with the program.

With each visit to the DC SCORES office, Galeas’ world opened up more and more. Staff helped sign her up for Youth Leadership Greater Washington in 2014, a 6-month development and community and education program through which Ana met others from DC, Maryland and Virginia. In May 2015, she spoke on a President’s Council on Fitness panel about her DC SCORES experience.

If Ana didn’t visit DC SCORES for a couple weeks, Greta Poku-Adjei, Ana’s closest confidante, asked why. When it came time to apply for colleges, they worked together to knock out the applications and apply for all the right scholarships that could make her dream a reality.

Assistant coach Ana (in the back with the hat) and the Lincoln girls team that won the Capital Cup title.
Ana’s family history didn’t portend college: Neither of her parents and just one of her four older siblings, a sister who’s currently enrolled at Montgomery, took their education that far. Even her sister struggled because of a lack of support with all the hoops one unfamiliar with the process must jump through.

“She didn’t have that much help with college,” Ana says. “So that, too -- DC SCORES came into that. They helped me a lot in (applying for) college.”

Galeas didn’t apply to her dream school, the University of Maryland, because she was scared of rejection. Now, she realizes that was a mistake but also sees a road that will lead her there -- a pathway program that would involve two years at Montgomery followed by a transition to College Park.

“It feels nice, it feels awesome,” Ana says, anticipating the beginning of her next life phase.

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But she’s not there yet. Ana has unfinished business at summer camp. With each day, she imparts knowledge on the third- fourth- and fifth-graders from her 10 years of involvement with DC SCORES. She lets them know that yes, soccer is great, but there’s also so much more they can do. There are multiple paths toward being successful and happy.

“I told them, ‘You guys can focus on two things,’” Ana says. “There’s always more than one thing you can do. I told that to some of the girls. If you have the ability to do more than one thing, you will never feel empty.”

Ana beams with pride when mentioning that girls she’s mentored are now exploring playing other sports. They also talk about being doctors. And then mention another possible career path. Their minds are open, overflowing with possibilities.

And that’s what she’s learned from her first game in a Raymond uniform all the way to sitting in front of hundreds of people alongside the former mayor of Philadelphia: With a strong support network, so much is possible. Horizons are expanded.

Dreams, whether old or new, are realized.

“Continue to not stop and to never look back,” Ana tells her summer campers. “The more things you’ll do, the more you’ll be happy about yourself.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Faces of Summer SCORES, Part III: Brothers Leo and Leon W. bond at camp


This summer, more than 250 DC kids are participating in DC SCORES’ three free soccer and enrichment camps. Throughout the season, we will highlight particular participants through our Faces of Summer SCORES video and blog series. You can also follow along on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtag #SummerSCORES.

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Written by Kelsi Moran
Communications Intern

It’s pool day at the Truesdell arts and soccer camp, and kids beam with excitement as they jump into the refreshing cold water on a hot summer day. Leon W., with his ever-present smile, jumps in with his brother Leo. The two are inseparable, both with a permanent look of pure enjoyment.

One of the many positive outcomes of DC SCORES camp is the opportunity for kids to build and strengthen relationships. Summer camp participants are unaware of the numerous memories they are making with others, and how much of an impact those shared experiences will have on their life. For these brothers Leo, 10, and Leon, 8, summer camp has formed a bond around soccer while fostering an environment where their relationship can grow.

Leo and Leon walk to and from camp together every day, reflecting on what they are excited about, what they learned, and what they enjoyed. While at the camp, it is apparent that the two have vastly different personalities and are independent individuals. But it is easy to see the connection between the two and similar spirit they bring to camp.

Leo (left), 10, and Leon, 10, have strengthened their relationship at DC SCORES summer camp.

“They both have this energy that I look forward to coming to every day,” said Jaryn Trent, their DC SCORES soccer coach.

Going to camp together gives the brothers a chance to motivate each other to work hard every day and help each other improve their soccer skills. This is the first summer the two have played soccer, making camp a joint learning experience.

“Soccer is now my favorite thing to do with my brother just because we both love the game and have had so much fun together at camp,” said Leon, a second-grader at Truesdell Education Campus.

For Leon, having a best friend around all the time is what makes brotherhood so special. He enjoys his brother’s presence at home, at camp, and on their walks between the two places. In most situations, they help each other every step of the way, all with warm smiles.

The different qualities they each bring to the table are noticeable to everyone they meet. They both enjoy telling others what they love about their brother.



“Leon is always laughing and smiling.” said fourth-grader Leo. “That is my favorite quality about my brother.”

Leo and Leon will leave camp with many more memories and shared experiences. Their relationship has strengthened during their time at Truesdell while cultivating a deeper appreciation for each other.

“Leo and Leon really work well together because of how close they are,” said Charles Robinson, longtime DC SCORES coach at Truesdell. “It’s common to see the two working together, helping each other out. The two are just really great to be around.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

From longtime supporter to staff member: Meet Tony Francavilla

Tony and DC SCORES' new office dog, Dexter.

Written by Tony Francavilla
Major Gifts Officer
afrancavilla@americascores.org
202.393.6999 x311

It’s officially week three at DC SCORES for me, and I still can’t convince most people I know that I haven’t been working here for years.

That’s because since the day I learned about the organization five or six years ago, I’ve been a donor, volunteer, and daily advocate. I’ve been to the Poetry Slam!, Jamboree!, and Fall Frenzy many times over. The staff I’m greeting now as coworkers every morning seem like old friends. The board members and donors I’m sitting down with are folks I’ve seen many times over.

It is the oldest new job I’ve ever had.

So why am I so into this place? I’ve actually never worked for an organization I didn’t care deeply about. That’s not a coincidence — when your job is to go around and talk to people all the time and everywhere about the organization you work for, you absolutely, positively must believe in it. But SCORES is personal for me: soccer, writing, and service-learning were the three pillars of my childhood, and I’m still pretty in awe of the fact that there is an organization in my city based on these three things.

Then there’s the staff. My old friends, I never began to understand you until now. No amount of volunteering and cheering from the outside could prepare me for the logistical miracles I’ve seen in the past couple weeks. This staff of 12 is running the only organized sports league for public elementary schools in DC and the largest organized sports league for middle schools, with tournaments in the winter and camps in the summer.

2,000+ kids for 12 months a year. Did I mention the city doesn’t have its own public school bus system? My co-workers take care of that too.



So why am I here now, finally? I’m lucky to live in a city where I could play on seven different soccer teams, seven days a week, easily. I could attend poetry readings and other seminars daily if I wanted to. I want to help the other people who live in this city and play on those teams get involved with SCORES and take ownership in providing those same opportunities to DC’s youth. I want to work with the companies where those people work to make them a part of this program as well.

Ultimately, I want this stretched staff to know that there is a reliable funding stream from individuals and corporations across the city, and that there is a robust cash reserve to fall back on. I don’t want them to have to worry where summer camp funding is coming from, ever. I want them to be able to focus their considerable energy and talents on making sure that we find a way to serve the 11 schools and hundreds of kids on our waitlist, because those kids deserve it.

If you are reading this blog, I assume you are already in it. So now we need your help to introduce other people and companies to the program. I’m going to do my best to speak to everyone who has invested time and energy into SCORES, but I hope you won’t wait for me to reach out. My contact information is above and I am very anxious to speak to you!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Faces of Summer SCORES, Part II: Nereida A. brings tireless work ethic



This summer, more than 250 DC kids are participating in DC SCORES’ three free soccer and enrichment camps. Throughout the season, we will highlight particular participants through our Faces of Summer SCORES video and blog series. You can also follow along on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtag #SummerSCORES.

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Written by: Kelsi Moran
Communications Intern 

It’s stories like Nereida’s, the once shy third-grader that would later go on to speak in front of large crowds and play on the winning 2016 Jamboree! team that inspire. With the support of the DC SCORES family, Nereida was able to find the confidence to write her own story of dedication and determination.

Nereida’s soccer story began as soon as she was able to walk, and she quickly became the first female in her family to play soccer.

For Nereida A., 13, soccer is an activity that keeps her physically and mentally healthy. When life chooses to throw stones at her, she kicks a soccer ball right back at it. It serves as her outlet for letting go of all her stresses and is a time when she can feel free of everything negative.

When asked how she feels about soccer, she simply responded, “Soccer is life.”

Soccer has taught Nereida “determination, dedication and teamwork” while also making her a stronger individual. She recognizes that there’s always room to improve her skills and embraces all opportunity for progress. Productive criticism given from coaches is something she wholeheartedly applies to her practices.

Last week at Tubman soccer camp, Nereida consistently practiced one skill over and over again and soaked up every word of advice given to her.

She is “one of the most dedicated players,” said longtime DC SCORES coach and camp director Popsie Lewis. “She never gives up, no matter what new things you give or show her.”

While soccer has played a large role in her five years with DC SCORES, Nereida emphasized the poetry side as a major contributor to her confidence.

“They (DC SCORES) put me in front of a microphone to speak in front of hundreds of DC SCORES players and I was terrified,” Nereida said. “I can do that now, I don’t get nervous, and can speak with a strong voice.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

14th Annual DC SCORES Cup raises $140,000 for DC kids



Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

During a rare break from the soccer Saturday, 32 teams of adults sporting different-colored T-shirts came together for a photograph. Perhaps only then, as everyone congregated in between fields 5 and 6 for a photo, could one realize just how BIG the 14th Annual DC SCORES Cup was.

The tournament at the Maryland SoccerPlex featured 32 teams and 500 participants. Games were played continuously on eight fields from 9am-2:30pm, followed by the playoffs. And the event concluded with high drama, as District Sports outlasted Zuckerman Spaeder LLP on eight penalty kicks for the competitive division title. Just a few minutes earlier, Enlightenment Capital capped off its first SCORES Cup by winning the casual division.



Most importantly, employees bonded during a long day of soccer together -- with important half-hour breaks for lying in the shade mixed in! -- and also learned more about DC SCORES. When Executive Director Bethany Rubin Henderson announced that the tournament raised a record $140,000 for DC kids, everyone broke out in applause.

Big thanks to all the companies that participated -- including Zuckerman, Marriott and Hogan Lovells US LLP, who have played in all 14 SCORES Cups -- as well as the tournament sponsors: Subway, which donated lunch for all participants; Whole Foods, which provided much-needed snacks for the DrinkMore Water, which continues to support DC SCORES' large events by donating huge jugs of water; and D.C. United, which provided many ticket giveaways leading up to June 25 and tickets for all participants to the August 27 game at RFK Stadium.
morning;

Additionally, a big thanks to the Maryland SoccerPlex, which has hosted the Cup for seven years now, and to all the volunteers who helped the day run smoothly from 6am until after 4pm.

RESULTS
Competitive division: Group play; playoffs.
Casual division: Group play; playoffs.

PICTURES
View our Flickr album.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Faces of Summer SCORES, Part I: Bryan stays active at camp

This summer, more than 250 DC kids are participating in DC SCORES’ three free soccer and enrichment camps. Throughout the season, we will highlight particular participants through our Faces of Summer SCORES video and blog series. You can also follow along on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtag #SummerSCORES.


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Written by Kelsi Moran
Communications Intern


It’s summer — the pools are open, parks are filled with loungers and live performances, and a great number of students are on vacation. For many, this time of year is accompanied by feelings of excitement and opportunity, while others are burdened with the worries of how one will pass the days.
For Bryan, a student at Thomson Elementary School, freedom from the responsibilities of school is a deep concern. He recognizes that being away from his studies can be detrimental to skills such as math and reading. He asks his mother to assign him math problems to avoid any learning loss. While tackling this issue, he understands that this does not answer the question of what he will do to avoid boredom.

"Summer is so fun, but my teachers always tell me that it’s easy to forget math," Bryan said. "So I asked my mom if we could do practice problems so I don’t forget.”

Boredom is the biggest culprit in unhealthy decision-making, especially during the summer months. As an active student and athlete, long periods of free time is not enjoyable for Bryan.

That’s where DC SCORES’ free summer camps, which began at Kelly Miller last week, come in.
Bryan’s love for SCORES summer camp is a combination of spending time on the field with teammates, and productively fill his free time. Bryan has been with DC SCORES for two years now, and his affinity for camp is apparent in his glowing smile. He thrives in environments that are geared toward being active and learning. His wholehearted engagement in the drills and games leads his coaches to describe him as passionate and hardworking.

“Watching Bryan on the field is truly a joy," said camp coach Bashir. "You can be certain that he will do his best every day and be as excited as he was his first day of camp on the last day."

One word that best describes Bryan is passion. It takes one conversation with him to see this. Whether discussing soccer, school, or NBA basketball, Bryan’s eyes light up and his scope of knowledge and pure interest permits him to talk for hours. Fair warning, this passion is highly contagious and may cause those who experience it to enthusiastically engage in conversations previously ignored.

DC SCORES camps are more than just a place to have fun with friends and dodge boredom; it is an outlet for Bryan, a place to express his passion for soccer and learning to its full extent. Bryan’s goal of making summer 2016 one of memories, learning, and engagement can be a source of inspiration for many.

With SCORES, summer will continue to be a time of excitement and opportunity for Bryan as he spends his days doing what he loves. Students have passions that should be encouraged and developed, but summer can often cause those passions to suffer. Thanks to SCORES supporters, this will not be the story for students like Bryan.