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Monday, December 31, 2012

12 stories that defined DC SCORES in 2012

We all know that the world moves quicker than a shot off the foot of the world's prominent goal-scorer, Messi.

That's why come tomorrow, 2012 will be all but forgotten. The focus will shift to the new year and new goals, new stories. For DC SCORES, a new calendar year is always exciting because it means serving more District youth in need of and deserving of a school team.

In 2013, we hope to serve more schools through our winter nutrition program; add new schools to our full programming in the spring; continue to build our older-youth program for DC SCORES alumni now in high school; provide free summer camps; and much more.

It's an exciting, busy time — what's changed? — around here!

But before we turn the page, it's worth taking a look back at 2012 — a year full of exciting individual and team stories, tremendous program expansion, new staff members, and much more. Here, without further ado, are 12 defining moments from 2012 (in chronological order) taken from the annals of this blog:

12. DC SCORES coach wins distinguished award, honored at Wizards game
For a second straight year, a DC SCORES coach — we hire two writing and soccer coaches at each school to run the program — won the Washington Wizards Care Community Assist award for their work in the community. Adwoa Blankson-Wood was honored at a January Wizards game for being such a positive role model as soccer coach at Howard Road Academy in addition to teaching second grade at the Ward 8 school. "Receiving this award was a great honor for me," Blankson-Wood said. "I am grateful to DC SCORES for nominating me and to the Positive Coaching Alliance and the Wizards organization for hosting."

11. Alumni President Aaron Hutchins brings leadership to group of former participants
For DC SCORES alumni in high school, 2012 was a big year. At the beginning of the year, the first-ever Alumni Executive Board was formed — a group tasked with organizing alumni events and volunteer opportunities to keep former elementary and middle school participants involved. Throughout the year, the number of alumni involved grew; more and more alumni volunteered as referees at elementary school game days; and several fun events were held for alumni, including the second annual soccer tournament. Alumni Council President Aaron Hutchins put a lot of effort into keeping high school students from throughout DC involved.

10. Athletic Director Kenny Owens wins pair of awards
Demonstrating how respected and well-entrenched the soccer portion of our program is in the District, DC SCORES Athletic Director Kenny Owens — who now runs the leagues for the nascent District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) — received two distinguished awards in the spring of 2012. In March, he was invited to serve on a panel at the White House and meet First Lady Michelle Obama as one of 13 recipients nationwide of a ‘Let’s Move and Physical Activity Champion of Change’ award; less than two months later, Owens received the Community Leadership Award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) for his work "enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, fitness or nutrition-related programs" for youth in DC. When Owens moved on from DC SCORES in July, he couldn't have left our soccer program in a better place.

8. Ayanna V., DeAndre W. wow Apollo audience at National Poetry SLAM!
Every April, two DC SCORES poets — chosen based on their performances at the DC SCORES Poetry Slam! — are chosen to travel to New York and participate in the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM!. In 2012, Ayanna V. (Noyes Education Campus) and DeAndre W. (Perry Street Prep Public Charter School) received the opportunity to perform alongside students from 13 other SCORES sites on stage at the famous Apollo Theater and made the most of it, impressing the audience and family membmers who traveled north with them. Since April, the pair of poets has continued to shine under the bright lights, performing at a Starbucks store and again at our Slam!. It looks like they've found a passion!

7. DC SCORES supporters rally to win car for program
May 14, 2012, was a special, special day for DC SCORES — in a different way. While programming went on as usual across the District, our supporters from all over the country — and even abroad — were at computers voting for us and telling others to do the same. By midnight, we had accumulated the most votes of five organizations in the 100 Cars for Good competition, which won us a Toyota Sienna van to use for transporting soccer equipment; taking kids to special events; and much, much more. During the ensuing months, we were honored during a ceremony at one of our summer camps; we were featured on the Nationals Park jumbotron during the annual Congressional baseball game; and in the fall, we received the van during a ceremony at a game day. The voting effort showed how large our online support base has grown and how energized people are to contribute to helping DC SCORES thrive and grow!

7. Record 26 teams participate in 10th Annual DC SCORES Cup
In a sign of DC SCORES’ increasing corporate support, the field for the 2012 DC SCORES Cup fundraiser soccer tournament grew for the third consecutive year. A record 26 teams participated in the event, and teams’ entry fees raised over $80,000 for DC SCORES. Volkswagen Group of America came away the winner from the June 16 tournament held at the Maryland SoccerPlex for the third consecutive year, but the action-packed day was enjoyed by all.

6. Service-learning projects bring smiles to the faces of community members
Each spring, every DC SCORES school uses the teamwork built on the soccer field to implement a service-learning project to better their school or greater community. The spring 2012 season was no different, as schools created gardens; held supply drives for the homeless; and much more. C.W. Harris Elementary School students made an indelible impression on senior citizens at the Deanwood  Rehabilitation and Wellness Center with a talent/comedy show for the residents. Then they stayed to play board games with the seniors, one of whom called the day her best at the center. Now that’s doing a service for your community!

5. DC SCORES alum Josselin Possian makes a national impression with soccer skills
In May, alum Josselin Possian — who participated in DC SCORES at Lincoln Middle School — was told by a friend at Bell Multicultural High School that he should try out at Nike’s “The Chance” showcase in DC. When Possian arrived for the event, he was joined by 499 other talented soccer players. They were told only one player would advance from the showcase to the USA Finals in Oregon. A few days later, Possian was chosen to advance. “I was shocked,” Possian said. “When he said my number, I was like, ‘What??’ I zoned out for a second.” In July’s USA Finals, Possian finished fifth out of 50 participants. Possian won’t stop playing competitive soccer anytime soon.  

4. More than 200 youth participate in DC SCORES’ free summer camps
For hundreds of youth in the District, traditional summer camps aren’t an option. This leaves the dangerous possibility of being stagnant during the critical summer months — when inactive minds and bodies can set back youth as the school year rolls around. That’s why DC SCORES’ free summer camps are so important, and that was no different in 2012 as over 200 youth participated in two soccer camps and a soccer & arts camp that provided an organized, safe opportunity for kids from all over the city to get daily exercise and keep their minds engaged. In addition to daily soccer drills and games and workshops on everything from dance to creative writing, participants enjoyed field trips, special guests, and making new friends from throughout DC.

3. In partnership with U.S. Soccer Foundation, DC SCORES expands to 15 new schools
This past fall, DC SCORES experienced unprecedented growth thanks to a new partnership that helped us kick-start our growth plan to provide a team for any kid in the District lacking one. Through a grant from The Social Innovation Fund administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the U.S. Soccer Foundation and DC SCORES — working in concert with community partners KIPP DC and the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) — partnered to implement the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program three days per week for 24 weeks of the year at 15 new school sites. Because of this partnership, DC SCORES’ physical activity footprint reached an unprecedented 42 schools in the District. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

2. New schools show quick grasp of stage presence at 15th Annual DC SCORES Poetry Slam!
The season-culminating Poetry Slam! can be an intimidating event for first-time participants. Each school is tasked with taking the stage in front of 400-500 audience members and performing group and solo poems. Stage fright is expected. But this November, DC SCORES’ new schools clearly showed they had prepared for the big show, as they put on powerful and inspiring performances during the two-night event that featured a record 35 performances. This was best exemplified by J.C. Nalle Elementary School, which won the Golden Mic trophy for the best elementary school performance in its very first showing. The following week, when a DC SCORES staff member visited Nalle, school administrators and teachers couldn’t stop talking about how proud they were of the young poets who had represented so well at the Poetry Slam!.

1. Volunteer Francesco Amorosino wins Mayor’s Community Service award
On Dec. 11, DC SCORES volunteer and Washington International School senior Francesco Amorosino was honored inside the Wilson Building by District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray for his commitment to community service. Amorosino received a Mayor’s Community Service award from Gray for his commitment to volunteerism through DC SCORES. Amorosino is a standout elementary school soccer referee — we use volunteer refs for all our elementary school games — and has always insisted on traveling from his NW DC home to schools east of the Anacostia River
because, “Seeing only one side of DC doesn't give you a complete picture. I like coming to the east side because it helps me get to know a little better the city I live in.” Amorosino is just one of hundreds of volunteers who made an indelible impact on DC SCORES youth during 2012.

DC SCORES needs your help to serve more students in the District deserving of a soccer and poetry team. Please consider Giving the Gift of a Team through our end-of-year campaign through Dec. 31.
We look forward to an even more exciting and rewarding 2013. Thank you for reading and your support!

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