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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Coaches and volunteers celebrated at 2nd Annual SCORE Awards

ATA coaches receive the Teamwork Award.
The mission of DC SCORES is that we build teams through after-school programs for 1,500 low-income DC youth.

However, it's not just the youth at 47 schools who grow together, become friends, and inspire each other to become leaders in their communities — the same can be said for the writing and soccer coaches who make our program possible throughout Washington, DC.

That was showcased — front and center — at the 2nd Annual SCORE Awards celebration Tuesday night at LongView Gallery. Nearly 200 guests were on hand for a night of inspiration, including dozens of coaches.

Many of those coaches took the stage during the event's presentation to receive awards for their dedication to being DC SCORES champions at their schools.

They took the stage together.

The last two trophies handed out during the evening were for the Teamwork Award. First, a group of eight coaches from Truesdell Education Campus crowded in on the small stage to receive their award. There is no way that more than a fifth of Truesdell's K-8 student body would be able to participate in DC SCORES — on elementary and middle school teams — without the unified support of their coaches, who are also teachers in the school.

Next, it was time to celebrate Arts and Technology Academy. Before the coaches took the stage, a special appearance was made by all-star poet Xavier C. — you might remember him from his performance on MSNBC April 7 after the America SCORES National Poetry SLAM! — who wowed the crowd of guests with his powerful and poignant school closing poem.

Charles Robinson and Shannon Nelson
(middle) receive the Kennedy Commitment
Awards from last year's recipients.
Watching Xavier, you could be forgiven for thinking that ATA and its recent streak of four consecutive Poetry Slam! Golden Mic championships is just blessed with incredibly talented students. In fact, it's been a 13-year process led by a group of four coaches who have been there for their poet-athletes from Day 1.

Writing coaches Joyce Newton and Natasha Davis and soccer coaches Rodney Curry and Robert Lancaster developed a tight-knit bond over the years that translated to the teams they built both on the soccer field and in the writing classroom.

"We're like family," Curry said after the coaches received their award. "I'm so thankful to be a part of our team. We've been together so long."

The Teamwork Award was only the last of many given out during the celebratory event. First, the Kennedy Commitment Awards — named after DC SCORES founder Julie Kennedy — were given to Shannon Nelson of Brightwood Education Campus and Charles Robinson of Truesdell, two long-time coaches who have built up their school communities around DC SCORES.

Then the Mingo Roberts Coaching Excellence Award was given to Daryl Forte of Burrville, who has been a staple at his former elementary school since the beginning of the millennium (read our blog from the fall) at Mark "Popsie" Lewis, who is the most recognizable man in the Columbia Heights neighborhood for his incredible dedication to coaching two DC SCORES teams and our older-youth U-16 team (also profiled in the fall).

Next, DC SCORES alum and current high school student Jarmar L. took the stage to read a beautiful ode to coaches that demonstrated the recognition so many of our alumni have for the difference coaches like Popsie — who mentored Jarmar — make in their lives.

Upon completing his poem and receiving a rousing ovation, Jarmar stepped off the stage and was greeted by Lewis' big embrace.

The night also demonstrated the immediate impact that passionate coaches and volunteers can have on DC SCORES students. Rich Myers of KIPP KEY received the Rookie of the Year Award for his work leading the soccer program at the school that began programming this fall. About a month ago, I had the chance to watch a KIPP game. The boys team was getting beat soundly by their opponent, but what impressed me was that the kids didn't let the score affect in any way their joy in playing soccer with each other.

The event was held at the beautiful
LongView Gallery.
That's a rare sight in this win-win-win society, and all the credit goes to Myers for building a program with the right priorities.

Another first-year difference-maker is Justin Feltman, who received the Chris Richardson Community Service Award. Feltman found DC SCORES through a google search this past fall, and has already become one of our most dedicated volunteers — refereeing elementary school games throughout the city and helping at any big event he can.

From our veteran coaching teams to our rookies, the SCORE Awards shone the light on the very best of our 190 coaches and hundreds of volunteers who make DC SCORES' mission a reality every day after school in all corners of the District.

Thank you to LongView Gallery, our sponsors Volkswagen Group of America and CIT Group, event planner EVOKE and everyone who attended Tuesday's event for helping us celebrate such amazing leaders.

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