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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Season Series: An introduction to Amidon-Bowen

This spring, we are following Amidon-Bowen's season highlighting their service-learning project, but also attending games and soccer practices. The Tigers are located in Southeast D.C. in Ward 6. You can follow along on all DC SCORES social media, and see game day updates by searching the hashtag #DCSGameDay

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

Though they are a brand-new program, Amidon-Bowen Elementary School has thrived using the DC SCORES model their first year combining soccer, poetry, and service-learning.

This season is Amidon's second spring implementing the program. The Tigers became a DC SCORES school in October 2015 when D.C. United's United Soccer Club program merged with DC SCORES. The partnership melded DC SCORES’ robust curriculum and proven success with D.C. United’s name recognition and soccer resources. Because of Amidon-Bowen's close proximity to D.C. United's home in Southwest (especially to United's new stadium coming in 2018), the school and its soccer team are especially important to the club and are often chosen for fun opportunities, such as tickets to games and training from players.

There are three coaches at Amidon: Carlos Granados, soccer; Kenisha Pecot, writing; and LeeVon Floyd, soccer and writing. Amdion has soccer followed by poetry/service-learning programming on the same days, and all three coaches are very involved in both aspects and build off each other's lessons. From just my first day at the school, it was obvious that the coaches are admired by the students, and it was noticeable that all three commanded a great amount of respect, no small accomplishment after a long school day. The Amidon poet-athletes were all happy to be at practice, and there were no complaints when the session transitioned from soccer to service learning.

"Poetry allows me to interact with students that I do not have the opportunity to see and also bond and build relationships," said coach Pecot.

Coach Carlos commented to me that in just the past two years, "Some of the kids have improved academically, so when it comes to reading out loud or writing, they have (really) improved. They don't have stage fright anymore, and it just comes more naturally for them."

Amidon-Bowen has adapted extremely well to the full DC SCORES curriculum, and has quickly become a part of the school and greater community. Now, the Tigers are ready to make a difference in their school community.

Stay tuned as we document their service-learning project this spring.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Alumni Tournament 2017: Intense competition with old friends

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury
Communications Intern

The mood was high as the almost 200 DC SCORES alumni flooded into the Tubman Elementary School field.

Tuesday marked the 7th annual DC SCORES Alumni Tournament, an event held for former participants of the program to play with their old teammates and competitors.

Students created teams of about 11 to play small-sided 6 v 6 games in intense competition. The competition didn't keep students from smiling and hugging all their old friends, though!

The games were played World Cup style: 4 groups of 4 teams played round robin for the first matches, then there were semi-finals, quarter-finals, and a final. Even when teams didn't make it to semi-finals, they stayed to watch the end of the tournament and cheer on their peers.

One could tell that alumni of DC SCORES love soccer. Seeing the skill level of the graduates of the program is almost unbelievable, especially when you know that some of these students had never played soccer before playing with DC SCORES.

In between games, I grabbed some alumni to talk to them about their DC SCORES experiences and what they are up to now:

A current high school senior, Eduardo, told me that DC SCORES was his first exposure to soccer, "DC SCORES helped me find a love for the game and figure out what I really wanted to do." He and his teammate Ibrahim, also a DCS alum, are planning to play college soccer at West Virginia Wesleyan College next fall.

Stephanie Cruz, an alumni who now attends Trinity Washington University, told me, "DC SCORES helped me build my leadership up and my sportsmanship and really taught me how to work and play with a team." Her sister, Jocelyn, said "A big thing [for me] was getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things."

After lots of hard-fought games, The Hollow Squad was victorious and they were named Alumni Tournament Champions. The winners were given Chipotle gift cards, and both finalists received tickets to an upcoming D.C. United match.

All in all, the event was a huge success. It brought old friends back together and reconnected them through the sport they all love. Thanks to Greta, Coach Popsie, and our sponsors for helping make the day as enjoyable as it could be for our poet-athletes. As our alumni network continues to grow, so will Alumni Tournament, and we can't wait!

Full photo album here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My first experience as a DC SCORES coach

Written by Javier A. Ponce Elizondo
DC SCORES intern

When I went to Barnard Elementary School with coach Hannah, it was my first time at Barnard and also my first time as a coach in DC SCORES. It was a great experience!

As Hanna started class, the kids were all really interested in what she was saying. She introduced me to all the kids, and they were very surprised to learn that I was Mexican like many of them. They immediately began asking me questions about soccer and soccer players and all that stuff. But then they pivoted, as we all worked together to understand the meaning of a poem presented to the group.

Barnard was still in the first phase of service-learning, which involves examining your school community and what needs to be improved. I was really impressed with how aware the Barnard Bears were of what was around them and the problems in their neighborhood.

There was only so much we could do in the classroom. After a lively question-and-answer session, we move outside to truly examine the school’s surroundings. We started with the cafeteria, then moved to the gym, then outside. The kids walked up and down the sidewalks, jotting observations in their notebooks. Was there trash strewn everywhere? Did certain areas need beautifying? The kids logged it all.

Upon returning to the classroom, the kids raised their hands to let Hannah know what they’d seen. But then we dug deeper. OK, there were issues. But how could they be addressed? How could we create change? As the service-learning session wrapped up, Hannah gave the Barnard poet-athletes a homework assignment — think about a social project and how you would enact it. Obviously the team’s service-learning project will take many more group sessions, but it was a really good start. It was a dynamic, deep and understanding class. I was happy to be a part of it!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Volunteer spotlight: Kathy Jacquart, soccer referee

DC SCORES has more than 500 volunteers who help make our program possible for 2,200 low-income DC kids. From assistant coaching, to tackling our big events, to providing expert services and advice, to folding newsletters in our office, to reffing weekly soccer games, to taking photos and videos, and much more, our volunteers make a difference in many ways and with varying schedules.

Today we highlight a volunteer, Kathy Jacquart, who has been refereeing soccer games for us since 2010 and loves the interactions she has with the kids each week during the fall and spring seasons. Get to know Kathy below, and if you'd like to referee games this spring, sign up HERE!


What is your day job?
I work at the National Science Foundation, specifically supporting the National Science Board, which governs and sets policies for the agency. The National Science Foundation is the primary funder of basic scientific, non-health research. We mostly fund university research, but also some STEM K-12 programs as well.

How long have you been volunteering with DC SCORES?
I started reffing games in 2013.

How did you first get involved with DC SCORES?
I think that it was VolunteerMatch online. I just was searching through the opportunities and reached out. I had been overseas doing international development work and wanted to settle back into DC and find somewhere to volunteer.

Do you have a soccer background?
Yeah, I played 4th-9th or 10th grade and in college on intramural teams. My dad coached and all of my siblings played. I wasn’t all that good, but it was my first team sport and I’ve always loved it.

I heard an interesting tidbit about how you get to and from your referee sites -- are you an avid cyclist?
I mostly bike for transportation -- I’ve always biked both recreationally and for transportation. This past year with the metro situation, I started biking to work a few days a week. My boss is an avid cyclist and sold me a really nice bike, which makes the commute much more pleasant. So I am not some hardcore cyclist, but I ride a few days to work and for fun.

How has your time with DC SCORES impacted you?
Well, I don’t usually have a lot of interaction with kids. I don’t have kids myself, and my nieces and nephews don’t live in the area. As I mentioned, my dad coached for many, many years. I didn’t realize the kind of impact that had on him until much later. Inspired by that, I wanted to try to work with kids in some way. I don’t really have enough time to coach, but I wanted to help out somehow.

I really like the elementary kids -- they are so cute! I’ve refereed at some of the same sites for years and have seen them really improve from year to year. They are really sweet kids. It’s so much fun to see them have a good time and watch the coaches interact with them.

"It’s not just about the soccer, but really about sportsmanship and having fun. Even though I am only involved with DC SCORES as a referee, I can just tell and see what a great program it is. Refereeing is a fun opportunity for me to have a little interaction with kids and contribute in a small way to a really great program. I have a great time and feel good about it!"

Do you have a favorite DC SCORES memory?
The biggest thing has been seeing the improvement from season to season. Especially last fall -- a lot of the kids that I remembered from the spring had made remarkable improvements in their skills and understanding of the game.

One specific memory: one game a couple of years ago, there was a a little girl that was really funny, she was a real character. There was a bit of a scuffle on the field, I think someone got pushed. I was trying to get everyone to shake it off and make sure the kids were all okay. I heard the little girl say to her teammate, “When they go low, you go high." I thought that was amazing coming from a young girl -- she really understood the point of being a good sport.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to get out and do stuff outside as much as possible. I am on a rowing team at the Capital Rowing Club and I’ve rowed since college. Unfortunately, now I am on a senior weekend program, but there are people of all ages -- we will get back out on the water in a couple of weeks.

I love exploring new places, which is something great about living in DC. There are so many things to see and places to see in DC and in the surrounding area. My husband and I do a lot of exploring and hiking on the weekends.

What is your dream vacation?
I’ve lived overseas for almost 15 years and have done a ton of traveling and been to some really cool places, but really my favorite vacation spot is a little beach in Rhode Island called Briggs Beach. My family has been going there since my grandmother was a little girl, and there is a 25-year waiting list to get a membership. It is so serene and there's something special about it. I go there and just feel the stress melt away. I really would trade any other beautiful vacation spot for this little beach in Rhode Island.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
You know, my husband is really into Science Fiction and I’m sure he would have an immediate list of his top 10 superpowers. Hmmm. I think that it would be to make sure that everyone is fed. I would want to be able to make sure that no one is going to bed with a hungry tummy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring SCORES means service-learning across Washington, DC

Written By Dahlia Chaudhury 
Communications Intern

Service-learning is a integral part of the DC SCORES curriculum, and we're always excited when spring rolls around and students begin their projects. To kick off the new season we've compiled some of our best service-learning stories and videos to give you an idea of what students will be tackling this spring.

“We don’t just play soccer. We can help other people in our community, too.”

-William P., H.D. Cooke

1. Imagine Hope creates a school garden out of recycled soda bottles

Last spring, Imagine Hope Tolson took advantage of their school-wide recycling program by saving bottles and creating a garden out of them. Students cut the bottles and filled them with soil and flowers to add some greenery to their school which is surrounded by asphalt. They also walked around the community and cleaned up several blocks. Imagine Hope students were joined in service by, among others,  sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade alumni who had stayed connected to the program through coach Jerome Clemons and the Classroom Champions nonprofit that he also ran at the school; Steve Mesler, the head of Classroom Champions, and dozens of Olympic athletes from the Team USA Athletes Advisory Council; James Cole Jr., the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; and a U.S. Senator, Adrian Smith of Nebraska.

“Literally, you can turn any space or any item possibly into a little green outside garden,” Clemons said.

You can read the full story here.

2. Raymond Education Campus plans a Healthy Living Carnival

In 2014 the Raymond Tigers successfully held a Healthy Living Carnival for their peers. The students split into committees, each of which planned and executed a booth. Committees taught students to work as a team to complete their project. The carnival was a success and students had a great time running their own booths.

You can read the full story here.

3. Truesdell cleans up their school community

The Truesdell Trojans took on cleaning up the trash in their school buildings for their 2015 service project. Like Raymond, they used the committee method to approach their project. They also made their project into a school-wide competition by offering a prize to whichever class picked up the most trash in their hallway.

There is an entire blog/video series on Truesdell's project. Check it out here.

4. Thomson addresses hunger in their community

Thomson Elementary School students used the research portion of service-learning to find out about hunger in Washington D.C. When they realized that 1 in 3 kids in D.C. doesn't have enough food, they decided to try and help solve this problem. Students created bags of trail mix to donate to D.C. Central Kitchen to give hungry children the right nutrients to help them succeed. They didn't stop there, though. Thomson students also wrote letters to DC councilmembers about the issue.

Read the full story here.

5. H.D. Cooke fights homelessness

H.D. Cooke began its service-learning process by looking at what would be beneficial to their community. Some students wrote down trash, while others saw homelessness as an issue plaguing their community. The Bulls visited Martha's Table to learn more about their issue and to get ideas on how they could tackle it. The students were able to reflect on the experience after, and many felt empowered by being able to help people.

6. Lincoln Middle School cleans the Anacostia River

Watch this major throwback video from 2011 of Lincoln Middle School's service-learning project to clean the Anacostia River. Students created a campaign to spread awareness about how dirty the river was and then took action to address the problem.


At the end of the spring season as part of the reflection phase of service-learning, students create a poster to be displayed at Jamboree! that shows their service project. These are just a few examples of the awesome posters.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Celebrating International Women's Day with DC SCORES stories

Written by Dahlia Chaudhury 
Communications Intern

In honor of International Women's Day, we're sharing some of our favorite stories and poems from an incredible group of DC SCORES young women. These are just a handful of the thousands of girls who find their voices, their power, and their sense of belonging through DC SCORES.

1. Alumna Ingrid Melendez

Ingrid Melendez was a DC SCORES student at Tubman Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School. She met some of her best friends playing at Lincoln as well as a coach, Asa, who served as a mentor and life coach during Ingrid's most difficult years. After aging out of DC SCORES, Ingrid stayed involved and worked for four consecutive summers at Marie Reed Elementary as a Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) counselor. After overcoming great obstacles during her high school years, Ingrid headed to college in the fall of 2015 -- the first from her family to attend college. Through all of her hardship, Ingrid found an outlet in playing soccer. On her time as a summer coach: “I always tell them it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl,” Ingrid said. “A girl can do anything a guy can do.”

Read Ingrid's inspiring story here.

2. A poem by Delaney B.
Kelly Miller Middle School poet-athlete, 11 years old

"Yes, I understand that I may have some ups and downs, but all people do/ But the fact that I'm black and I'm a girl makes it even harder too. These are the things you don't know about me/ I'm smart, intelligent, wise, strong and also pretty"

3. Alumna Claudia Umaña

Claudia Umaña participated in DC SCORES at Bancroft Elementary School. With her mother working to support the family, Claudia was tasked with taking care of her younger brother, and so encouraged him to join SCORES as well. Claudia went on to play soccer in high school, and became not only the first high school, but also college graduate in her family. Her brother followed in her footsteps as well. Claudia went on to work for the nonprofit Women's Policy to create opportunities for women and girls in sports and other areas. “I take a great amount of pride because that means these girls are being active but also being treated equally and taking advantage of sports in general that maybe before —even before my generation — (they) could not,” Claudia said recently.

Read Claudia's full story here.

4. Nohemy S. speaks on Capitol Hill

DC SCORES poet-athlete Nohemy, who participated in the Soccer for Success program at Chavez Prep Charter School, spoke in 2015 alongside professional athletes and members of Congress on Capitol Hill at the "How Sports Can Improve Girls' Health" briefing about her experience playing soccer and being on a team through SCORES.

"The biggest thing that I have learned from playing soccer is to feel confident in myself," Nohemy said. 

Watch her whole testimony here.

5. Arnye Y.'s poem at the 2016 Poetry Slam!

"I am a powerful young woman who raises my hand to speak/ I should be treated like who I am, and should always be offered a seat/ They say 'man down' but what about 'woman down?'/ They say 'man up' but what about 'woman up?'/ There has never been a woman president, that's what I see"

-- Arnye' Y., 10 years old
Thomas Elementary School

6. Alumna Nijah Armstrong

Nijah Armstrong scored a goal in her first DC SCORES game with the Burrville Eagles. After playing for one year with the Tigers, Nijah played for a year at Kelly Miller Middle School, though she never forgot her time at Burrville. Nijah went on to graduate high school and attend North Carolina A&T State, where she double majored in forensic science and psychology. She hasn’t played much since that year, but Nijah carried the lessons instilled in her by the Burrville coaches to where she is today. “They taught me never to quit even if it’s tough -- life in general and in sports,” Nijah said.

Read Nijah's story here.

7. Alumna Myiah's poem

As a DC SCORES poet-athlete, Myiah attended Burrville Elementary School. She is now a student at Georgetown University, and performed at the Our Words Our City poetry showcase earlier this year. Myiah embodies the confidence and passion DC SCORES fosters, and thinks that one of the best things in life is working with young minds to create.

8. Alumna Ana Galeas

Ana Galeas joined DC SCORES to play soccer, but in doing so found confidence and a voice that she has used in multiple avenues. After playing for three years in elementary school and in her final year at Lincoln Middle School, Ana kept lasting connections to her team and coach which led to her becoming the assistant coach at Lincoln, as well as a summer camp coach during her high school years. With each year of coaching, Ana’s confidence rose along with others’ trust in her. She became a strong leader and advocate for her team. In May 2015, she spoke on a President’s Council on Fitness panel about her DC SCORES experience, and in 2016 she spoke about the program in front of 150 people at a Brookings Institute event. “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.”

Read Ana's story here.