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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DC SCORES alumni excited to give back to the program

Tomorrow is a huge day for current DC SCORES participants.

Yep, you guessed it, the first game day of the spring season (see the schedule here). The chance, finally, for teams from across the city to take the field for another season in Washington, DC’s only school-based soccer leagues for elementary and middle schools.

But it’s also a pretty important day for a group of older District students. At those same game sites, you will find DC SCORES alumni on the field, whistle in mouth and stopwatch in hand, refereeing the games.

Giving back to the program that meant so much to them.

Last Friday, 30 high school students spent their afternoon off from school inside the DC SCORES office. In a crowded conference room, students representing eight high schools who participated in our program at more than 15 schools chatted each other up, ate plenty of pizza and – most importantly – talked excitedly about staying involved with DC SCORES.

First, though, they shared plenty of reasons why DC SCORES meant so much to them.

“DC SCORES was important to me because it kept me off the streets and gave me discipline and taught me how to play soccer very well,” said Ojaye C. of Coolidge High School.

“DC SCORES was important to me because it kept me occupied when having nothing else to do,” said Briana J. of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School.

After sharing their experiences, the alumni brainstormed events they could hold as a group to stick together. The first answer? A soccer tournament, of course. So during spring break, a tournament will be held during which teams are formed based on DC SCORES affiliations.

Old Marie Reed teammates will form a squad. Same for Brightwood. And Lincoln. Immediately, alumni were excited to reunite their teams and talked about reaching out to others who weren’t at the meeting to get them involved.

Then the group learned about the different ways they can give back. Michael White of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation visited to talk about “Empower Me for Life,” an eight-week program designed specifically for teenagers to teach younger students about healthy living, nutrition and physical fitness.

Alumni will be able to teach the curriculum along with service-learning in classrooms throughout the city this spring.

The group then split up, with those interested in becoming assistant writing coaches heading upstairs and interested referees staying put.

Athletic Director Kenny Owens and Assistant A.D. Sean Hinkle took the interested refs through a training that ended with each participant proudly posing with a certificate for the camera.

Upstairs, those curious about assisting the writing program learned different teaching techniques and left the training excited about helping schools with their service-learning projects.

“I look forward to just working with the youth and trying to make them understand how important DC SCORES should be to them like it was to us,” said Queen D. of H.D. Woodson High School.

After three-plus hours, a lot had been accomplished. An Alumni Leadership Group, whose members will take the program’s reigns and organize all activities, was formed. The group will meet once a month at the DC SCORES office.

Many kids unexpectedly showed up and, by afternoon’s end, were excited about being involved in all alumni activities.

And some alumni were already penciled in as referees for Game 1 of the spring DC SCORES season.

To learn more about the alumni program, contact Middle School Program Director Katrina Hochstetler at khochstetler@americascores.org or 202.393.6999 x304 and/or become a “friend” of the program on Facebook.

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