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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

DC SCORES coach's journal, part II: Lessons learned from Game 1

Zachary Gomes moved to Washington, DC, two months ago from Albany, NY, to begin working at DC SCORES as a Coach Across America AmeriCorps volunteer. Zach has a passion for working with youth, and as part of his work with DC SCORES is coaching poetry and girls soccer at Lincoln Middle School. Throughout the season, Zach will share his experience as one of DC SCORES’ 190 coaches who run the program at our 47 schools. Zach will provide insight on the impact of DC SCORES -- through the eyes of a coach.


Written by Zachary Gomes 
Soccer Coordinator

So the first game is in the books. We lost, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect our level of play. The girls fought hard all the way through and all of us learned a thing or two.

I learned that I needed to start from the beginning. I noticed three positions while watching the game: defense, offense and the huge bunch of girls running in a pack, back and forth, following the ball everywhere it went. Monday’s practice would have to start with a better explanation of the positions. The first game was a learning experience; it was also amazing.

I couldn’t stop smiling (as evidenced by photos); I was so proud of the girls.

Gabriela A., who has never played soccer before (imagine that!), played goalie for the first time and even though she let some goals in, she never gave up. At the end of the game, she charged out of the box, leapt in the air and saved a towering shot!

In her excitement, she proceeded to almost back into the goal. I made a note to myself to do some goalie training after talking soccer positions on Monday. I was impressed by Gabriela’s determination. She had played her first game of soccer and pushed through the challenges. She had displayed real courage.

As the girls walked off the field, Jossellyn A, who has been in DC SCORES since third grade, ran up to Gabriela and gave her a double high five. With that simple act of camaraderie, Jossellyn exemplified the power DC SCORES can have on a kid. Jossellyn demonstrated leadership, sportsmanship, teamwork and friendship. She supported her teammate and showed a level of maturity anyone could learn a lesson from.


“I am from” was the prompt for one of last week’s poetry classes. The kids and I are now in a beautiful classroom, and the change of setting from the cafeteria has made a real difference. The “I am from” prompt encourages the children to not only write about the places they are from but to think about the experiences that have formed them. It is a perfect activity for the kids to learn more about one another and to delve a little deeper into their own evolution.

It was amazing to hear the kids share their poems. Brianna V., who is in DC SCORES for the first time and usually never shares her writing, was so inspired by others sharing that she finally read aloud to the class. Everyone clapped when she was done, her face turned a bright red and her smile started at one ear and went to the other.

I am from El Salvador.
I am from my beautiful, caring mother.
I am from the nacho cheese chips I eat at lunch.
I am from the soccer field and scoring a goal.

The kids got creative and respected one another, allowing each and every student in the class a chance to share. It was awesome to be a part of. Practices are going well and game two is right around the corner. Not to mention the Poetry Slam! is coming, and coming fast. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

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