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Monday, October 28, 2013

DC SCORES Fall Frenzy serves multiple purposes for program participants and coaches

The Burrville Eagles.
As Tom Mason stood watching his C.W. Harris Elementary School Vikings soccer team play yet another game, he thought back to the previous year.

Only three of Mason's students were able to attend the 2012 DC SCORES Fall Frenzy. While the trio had loads of fun, the youth also took away tangible benefits from the event.

"They ended up being some of my best players last year because they were like, 'Wow, we've got to step it up. We can do this!'" Mason said.

"Seeing all the other teams and the different talent levels, they get to see different tricks and different things other teams are doing so they get a better understanding of the game."

This year, Mason had a much larger group of Vikings and was confident they would come away from the 16th Annual Fall Frenzy Saturday at Trinity Washington University with a greater understanding of the game and what they need to do to get better.

"I'm able to teach them, 'Look at how they were passing, look at how they were shooting,'" Mason said of playing against a handful of other teams from throughout the District.

"'We might have to play a team like this. You know how good they are? We gotta focus better, we gotta get on this if we want to be as good as them.'"

That motivation to improve was just one aspect of DC SCORES' fall celebration for hundreds of students representing 30 elementary schools. Mixed in with the soccer games were all kinds of fun and goofy activities.

It was a family fun day that went on and on and on -- much to the kids' liking.

With DJ RBI blaring songs both past and present, the corner of the field he occupied from 9am-2:30pm often became a grass-laden dance floor. Teams even took a breather during their soccer games to do the Cha Cha Slide.

The main field at Trinity contained a flurry of soccer activity, with six games played simultaneously -- one after another. Up a small hill, three more fields featured game after game. First, the girls would play, followed by the boys. Then a horn would sound, and teams would move on to their next game or activity.

The activity stations were down the hill from the DJ booth, and were no less fun than the soccer -- often involving the sport, too. At one station, volunteers led a relay race. A student would start by doing something such as somersaults or running backward to one end; they would then receive a paper instruction from a volunteer to dance, spin or cartwheel back -- you get the point.

Adjacent to the relay races, kids practiced their shooting accuracy on a big net set up by partner Penya Barcelonista. When done with that, they tried scoring on a real goalkeeper at another big goal -- putting their practice into action (before, of course, they headed back up the hill for game action) ... but not before exercising their minds and creative sides at a Halloween bag-decorating station and a poetry writing table.

This is what a student from Imagine Hope Community Charter School wrote about the different aspects of autumn:

I am something that falls
I am something that you eat
I am something you love
I am something you drink
I am something that falls from the tree
Who am I?

In between activities, teams took turns visiting the Revolution Foods truck where wraps, vegetables and fruit provided a healthy lunch to keep kids energized well into the afternoon. Participants stayed hydrated as the weather slowly warmed thanks to a generous donation from long-time partner DrinkMore Water. And all minor injuries were healed quickly thanks to Sport and Spine Rehab's expert team.

The event also featured a special guest, as Talon, D.C. United's mascot, made an appearance and was immediately swarmed for photo opportunities by anyone and everyone who caught sight of the big bird.

The Fall Frenzy was a great chance, too, for parents who work during the week to see their children in action on the soccer field. Parents filled out surveys about the program's impact and took home giveaways and coupons from our partner Modell's Sporting Goods.

And they walked away feeling proud of how much their kids have grown within their DC SCORES teams.

"She thinks I'm too hard on her but I'm very excited (watching)," said Gregory Hawkins, whose daughter Taylor is a fourth-grader at Anne Beers Elementary School. "I just like to see the fact that she takes interest in playing sports."

The Fall Frenzy would not have been possible or run so smoothly -- from nine soccer fields, to six booths, to the lunch truck, to the parent tent -- without the largest showing of volunteers ever for such an event. Decked out in neon-yellow shirts, with a special design for the referees, nearly 100 individuals spread out across the the complex to make a difference for DC youth.

Volunteer referee Justin Feltman.
Justin Feltman has refereed elementary school soccer games all fall and was happy to do six or seven more Saturday and get to see new teams play.

"Win or lose, it seemed like everyone was pretty happy, which is awesome because an important part of sportsmanship is being able to handle losing well," Feltman said after reffing his final game. "It was just great to be a part of that kind of environment and hang out with the kids, get to know them a little bit."

As the music died down and 30 teams in an array of DC SCORES T-shirts walked up the hill toward the awaiting buses, participants reflected on an action-packed day.

"It didn't matter if we won or lost. We were having fun!" an Imagine Hope student said.

"Getting my face painted!" Malik from Thomson said of his favorite part of the Fall Frenzy.

"Playing soccer!" added Thomson midfielder and forward Jason.

Added Kevin of Marie Reed: "This is my first year coming to the Fall Frenzy. What I like about it is going against other schools and working together as a team."

As Mason can attest, that experience will likely pay off for many teams as the DC SCORES fall soccer and poetry season heads toward its final month.

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