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Friday, October 31, 2014

DC SCORES coach's journal, Part III: Fast! Slow! Outside! Low!

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


While on defense close the gap between yourself and the opponent who has the ball as FAST as you can. As you get close to them, SLOW down so you don’t just blow by them. Next, angle your body to push them toward the OUTSIDE of the field! And whatever you do, stay LOW, on your toes and don’t let them get by you!

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks here at Lincoln Middle School DC SCORES. The poetry and soccer coaches got together for mid-season training and we all learned some valuable tools to bring back to our practices. FAST, SLOW, OUTSIDE, LOW was one of my favorites.

But my absolutely favorite, for sure, is a drill I have come to call “the running of the crab gauntlet.” In this drill, there are four sections set up for the girls to dribble through. Each section is occupied by one girl in a crab-like position (hands and feet on the ground) scurrying around vigorously attacking the dribbler and attempting to not allow her through the section. The drills gets the girls working hard and smiling.
Coach Zach's clipboard.


The new skills paid off last week, and the girls got another win. It was nice to get the “W,” but I was most impressed by the sportsmanship and attitude of one of the team’s veterans, Maria S.

Maria has been in DC SCORES for two years and sometimes can have a little temper. Let’s just say she is passionate. Maria likes to win and she always, always plays 110 percent.

The whole game, Maria was battling with one particular opponent who matched her in size and speed. Up and down, up and down the sideline the two girls would run, shoulder checking and jockeying for position. In fact, both of the girls scored goals.

After the other girl scored, Maria ran over to her. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. It went very well. Maria shook the girl’s hand and congratulated her on the skill and accuracy of her shot. I couldn’t have been more proud of her. Don’t hate, congratulate. Respect.


The Poetry Slam! is about one month away and the kids are working extremely hard to get some amazing poems prepared. By Dec. 3, the poetry class (which consists of both the girls and boys soccer teams, around 40 kids in all) needs to have two group poems written, memorized and ready for the bright lights.

The last few classes have been focused on writing our first team poem. Using a free association exercise, I asked the kids to write whatever came to their minds when I said the word ‘clock.’ I then wrote the word down on the board and underneath it wrote the first seven words the kids called out. That produced something like this…


Next, the kids wrote a seven-line poem, the only requirement being that they had to use each word on its respective line. This exercise produced some awesome surprises. Everyone shared.

After the kids’ creative juices started flowing, we did the same exercise, except this time the first word was ‘together’ and I asked them to think about their team.


The kids floored me with their work. Carolina R., who has been in DC SCORES for two years, wrote a beautiful poem that had her peers clapping and giving her a standing ovation. Ferdis A., a two-year veteran of DC SCORES who had not shared any of his poems with the class up this point, dropped jaws with his beautiful, rhyming masterpiece.

Things are looking up for the Slam!. It is amazing to watch the kids tap into their creative sides. Kids who may have never thought of writing a poem, write one and amaze not only me, but their peers and, oftentimes, themselves. The pride on their faces is contagious and gets the whole team connected on a level that soccer alone could not do.

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