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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Coaches of all levels unite at Coach Kickoff, ready for DC SCORES season

Jacqui Kemp addresses roughly 100 coaches at the Kickoff.
Written by Josh Freedholm
Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

This past Saturday, roughly 100 coaches convened at Capital City Public Charter School to prepare for the start of DC SCORES programming next week. When you have the highest coach attendance in DC SCORES training history, it’s hard to call the event anything but a success.

However, it was the energy in the building that made the event one to remember and a great starting point for another DC SCORES season.

Despite the early weekend wake-up call, coaches were ready and thrilled to participate in the opening icebreakers. As staff member Jacqui Kemp ran across the room getting coaches to do the wave, it became clear the event would be more than just an information session for the coaches representing 47 public and public charter elementary and middle schools spread across the District.

The day was filled with activities that got the coaches using the skills their students will be honing. As new and returning elementary school writing coaches crowded around tables with Writing Coordinator Rachel Klepper to go over this year’s curriculum -- which is long and comprehensive, by the way! -- she got them to participate in a quick round of “Poetry Poker” to teach that poetry doesn’t always need to make sense.

At each table, a dealer dealt cards of poetic phrases, giving two to each coach and placing two more group cards in the middle. Coaches then worked to create a multi-line poem using all four phrases available to them. Their passion for writing was clear as 35 coaches silently jotted out their ideas, before one coach shared his and blew us away with this outstanding poem:

“There’s no sunlight on this cold train, 
Darkness, nothing but darkness as it was going. 
but out of the darkness sprang a voice 
muffled, without void, yet plain, crisp, clean 
of a woman who could not endure without her nice, 
old, stale piece of pie.”

I was left feeling excited for the poetry this coach is going to help his team produce by the time the Poetry Slam! rolls around in December.

In the afternoon, coaches split up to participate in the first-ever leveled trainings. Through the new system, soccer and writing coaches advance to higher levels of training as they gain experience, enabling DC SCORES to implement a program that teaches coaches new skills to make their teams even stronger.

Upstairs in the steamy gymnasium, soccer coaches broke into Level One and Level Two training groups. The heat couldn’t deter the Level One coaches as they worked with Program Manager of Soccer Operations Carlos Fonseca on the fundamentals of the game. Coaches dribbled, passed, and shot their way around the room, before taking a role as students while Carlos led them through a mock practice session.

On the other side of the room, Level Two coaches focused on refining and developing their skills. Those returning coaches worked on their ball control, as well as changing their direction and speed with the ball.

“This was the most excited and engaged I have seen our coaches at one of our trainings,” Carlos said. “Having different levels of training really allowed our coaches to interact even more.”

The soccer coaches finished the day with tired legs and new ideas, while the writing coaches all convened to decorate the writing journals they will hand out to students next Monday. Speaking with some new coaches as they picked up their DC SCORES Coach shirts, I realized the role the day had played in transferring the passion of those who have been with the program for several years to those first-year coaches.

“I learned that with us encouraging poetry and writing through the children that we can become more than a sports team,” said one freshman coach.

“What really impressed me was seeing how the program positively impacts kids,” added another.

My only thought -- just wait until you get to see the program in action next week.

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