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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Volunteer spotlight: Natasha Sleigh, elementary school soccer referee

Natasha Sleigh refs the H.D. Cooke-Brookland game.
Each month, DC SCORES highlights a volunteer that has made a significant impact on the program. It would be impossible to give 1,500 students throughout the District the quality programming they receive without the help of our volunteers. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.DCSCORES.org.

This month we highlight Natasha Sleigh, who is refereeing elementary school soccer games each Thursday this fall for DC SCORES. 

Are you currently employed/student? If so where?

Yes, I am a construction consultant at Held Enloe & Associates.

How did you get involved with DC SCORES?

I saw your article in The Washington Post (Aug. 1) and was struck by how difficult it is for kids to get involved in after-school sports. I have played soccer since I was 5 or 6 years old, and in high school when I wasn’t playing soccer I was coaching little kids. I also played intramural soccer as well as rugby when I was a student at Western Washington University, so it just seemed like something I had to get involved with.

What do you find most interesting about DC SCORES?

In college I worked with at-risk youth, particularly fifth graders who I noticed did not get enough activity during the day and had no structure after school. DC SCORES does all of that; the poetry along with the soccer allows everyone to get involved. Kids still get the team culture whether they are athletically or writing-inclined, and I think that is so important to ensuring that kids are well-rounded.

Describe your most enjoyable experience volunteering for DC SCORES.

I’ve been refereeing at Brookland (Education Campus) and they have been doing co-ed games, and every game both the boys and the girls are so respectful of each other. It’s just amazing to see the boys be conscious of the girls playing on the field. Also, last game was pretty intense. One of the kids got hurt, but he just shrugged it off and wanted to keep playing. And I was just like yeah, that’s the type of attitude you should have.

What motivates you to want to volunteer?

I think being a part of your community is important. I just recently moved here in the past year, and I didn’t grow up here and was having trouble feeling connected to the community. I think volunteering helps you connect and you can meet people and the kids in your neighborhood. I know when I was growing up, if there had been a program like DC SCORES in my neighborhood it would have been amazing. I feel that if this program is important to those kids then it’s important to me too.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I have two dogs that I adore and I like to go running with them. I also enjoy reading, watching new TV shows, D.C. United games, and spending time with my friends.

Who is your favorite athlete?

I would say Abby Wambach. She is a strong player and it is so cool that she was a guest judge at the Poetry Slam! a few years back. Also, as a Seattle native, I like Kasey Keller, the goalkeeper for the Seattle Sounders.

Who is your favorite singer or poet?

I’ve been getting into John Legend; he has a new album that is awesome.

What is your favorite food?

Anything with a lot of carbs, particularly pasta and breads.

Any other interesting information about yourself?

My rugby nickname was Slayer, because my last name is Sleigh.

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