Zachary Gomes moved to Washington, DC, last August 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 time with DC SCORES is coaching poetry, service-learning and girls soccer at Lincoln Middle School. Throughout the year Zach will share his experiences, providing insight on the impact of DC SCORES -- through the eyes of a coach.
Written by Zachary Gomes
The last game of the spring season is today against the 2014 DC SCORES Capital Cup champions from Raymond Education Campus. It will certainly be a challenge, but the girls have grown so much and I know it will be a great game.
Watching the girls develop as a team over the past year has really been a joy. Things certainly aren’t perfect and there is always room for improvement, but isn’t that the case with everything? That’s one of the great lessons playing on a team can teach — keep working hard, keep improving, keep learning because there are a lot of other individuals and teams out there working just as hard or harder than you.
As a unit the team is stronger than ever. Win or lose, the team is understanding more and more that it is the support of their teammates — through the good and the bad — that is really what makes a team so special.
The eighth-graders have stepped up and taken leadership roles. The older girls lead the stretches, run the drills, invent new drills, suggest new lineups and give the team talks before and after games. They are enjoying every moment of their last season as DC SCORES poet-athletes.
Jossellyn A., who has been a DC SCORES student since the fifth grade at Marie Reed Elementary School and is one of the team captains, is already getting a bit emotional about the end of the season. DC SCORES has been a part of her life for the past four years and clearly means a lot to her. She wants to end the season on a positive note and so does the rest of the squad.
My first ever DC SCORES game day as a coach at Lincoln was last September. We played E.L. Haynes and we lost 6 to 0. Last Friday we got a chance to play them again and we looked like a completely different team.
E.L. Haynes has a great team, and 5 minutes into the game one of their forwards ripped a shot from outside of the box to put them up by a goal. This would be a test for the girls. How would they react to being down a goal so early in the contest? Would frustration get to them or would they respond as a team and keep going strong?
I reminded them from the sideline that there was a lot of time left in the game, but they looked at me with faces that read ‘we already know that coach.’ They were not going to give up or get down on one another. They rebounded and rebounded fast. Noelia A., a seventh-grader whose skills have continued to get stronger throughout the season (her first season ever playing!), scored a goal 2 minutes later to tie things up.
A couple of minutes later, Jossellyn caught a hold of a ball that was rattling around in the box. She volleyed the ball out of the air and slammed it into the back of the net. It was a pretty goal. We ended up winning the game 5 to 2. It was a well-played game on both sides.
Our service-learning project has continued to move along. And although the kids have hit a few road blocks while planning for their Community/Family day, they are still going to make it happen.
As the team began organizing the special day for their families and friends, it became clear to me that they just thought they were planning a party. Coach Popsie and I decided to have the team take a step back from the planning process and re-evaluate why they were planning the day in the first place.
This sparked a lot of interesting conversation over what family means, why family is important and how family and friends can help an individual succeed.
The kids strongly rejected the traditional definition of family — “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. A group of people related to one another by blood or marriage.”
Instead they defined family as a “group of people who share a bond and are connected because of experience, values, emotions, culture and a love for one another. They do not need to be related by blood.”
In the end, the kids figured out the main concept of the day by accident. In an invitation letter addressed to their parents and friends, the kids wrote, “Modern technology keeps us from communicating with our families a lot.”
We began to read articles and talk about the negative and positive effects of technology — how technology has affected the concept of family dinner and the socialization process. It was pretty interesting stuff.
The kids have decided that the Family/Community day will focus on spreading the message that quality family time without the distraction of technology is important to create meaningful relationships. We might even ban phones from the event … or for at least a portion of it. We’ll see if it happens. I have faith it will.
Stay tuned for my final blog about the service-learning project and a recap of the May 30 Jamboree!.