Written by Cory Chimka
Some of my favorite encounters when I'm out at our schools every afternoon are the organic partnerships I find developing between DC SCORES and the handful of other great nonprofits we encounter serving DC's youth (such as 826DC). During a recent Thursday elementary school soccer game day visit at the Arts and Technology Academy at 54th and Blaine streets, NE, I met Topher Anuzis, better known as Coach LV to the ATA community.
Topher was placed at ATA as a full-time Recess Coach by Playworks. During the school day, he is tasked with bringing structure to the potentially chaotic recess time for ATA's 650 students. Topher strives to make recess at ATA organized, safe and inclusive. Doesn't every student deserve to be included in, feel safe, and have fun during recess?
When Coach LV began working at ATA, he was pleasantly surprised by the robust offerings available to ATA's students after school. As a former soccer player, Topher was most impressed with and intrigued by the DC SCORES program. He made arrangements to begin shadowing veteran and several-time DC SCORES Eastside Champion coaches Rodney Curry & Robert Lancaster.
Using what he learns shadowing Curry and Lancaster during DC SCORES soccer practices, Topher works to create a similar experience for the entire ATA student body during recess! He says by replicating activities he observes during DC SCORES soccer practices, he can not only reinforce soccer skills for the DC SCORES team, but also use DC SCORES participants as teachers and leaders in teaching soccer and listening skills to students who spend their afternoons in tutoring or drama club. Coach LV has also begun using all the best practices he experiences leading and coaching recess in implementing one soccer training session a week with the DC SCORES team.
Like all great front line youth development workers, Topher values the whole-child approach that both DC SCORES and Playworks are committed to. During DC SCORES writing sessions, he tutors students who need extra help in writing. He enjoys giving individual attention to new DC SCORES participants who might not be as practiced as veterans in the DC SCORES writing classroom.
Topher loves "working with an organization dedicated to play, and seeing another organization devoting time to something that might otherwise not be exposed to our students, and encouraging expending students' energy in a positive way."