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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Faces of Summer SCORES Part III: Nancy C. -- A Family Affair

Written by Colin Patch
Digital Media Intern

Spending time with your caring step-father and wildly energetic little brother can be quite the task for a bashful pre-teen girl. Being on the same soccer team as them, along with the rest of your 5th grade friends, is that much harder.

However, one DC SCORES participant is managing both the new responsibility her step-father's assigned and the occasional embarrassment her little brother is quick to provide, and is growing and maturing in spite of it all.

Nancy C., an 11-year-old student at Marie Reed Elementary School, has been a participant for the last two years in DC SCORES' after-school programs and summer camps.

Nancy's step-father, Elver Garcia, joined DC SCORES as a volunteer coach that same year, and has led her Marie Reed team since. Eight-year-old brother Melvin is a new addition to SCORES, and has made a presence at camp as one of the loudest and most energetic players at Reed.

While it may be the off-season for his coaching duties, Elver is still eager to see his kids on the field and gets off work whenever he can to pick up his step-children from camp.

Having the family together is something that Elver deeply appreciates, and seeing them enjoy the same game he grew up playing gives him that extra bit of joy;

"I remember as a kid, back in my country, playing in the streets, dirt, everything; it was breakfast, lunch and dinner," he says.

Elver's history playing soccer in El Salvador, the country where he was born and raised, is what originally captured Nancy's attention and drew her to the game.

And while she's developed a passion for soccer similar to that of her step-father, keeping the family dynamic separate from the team has proven quite complicated for both.

On Elver's side, the biggest difficulty has come in battling the innate desire to push your child to succeed.

When asked what it's like having his kids involved in something he loves, he replied, "It's a plus and it's a challenge, because I try to be fair with every kid. But, you know how kids are. They may think just because she's my daughter or he's my son that I'm taking preferences, but on the field I try to treat everyone the same. They're not family, just teammates."

For Nancy, the challenge has been in dealing with the responsibility her father places on her:

"It was hard because he was always pressuring me when I didn't work hard," she said. "And when we train, I have to be a leader because I was in it [DC SCORES] for two years and he expects me to show other people what's the routine."

With all the difficulties that accompany mixing 'work with family,' there are an array of positives which have benefited both as well.

For one, Nancy has accepted the leadership role in stride and has proven a valuable player for her Marie Reed side. At summer camp, she's even learned to shrug off the humiliation she sometimes feels and serve as a role model for her younger, more eccentric brother and the rest of the campers.

Elver, on the other hand, has found a way to continue his passion, spend quality time with family, and use sport as a method for teaching his children. As he puts it, "Soccer has everything. It will teach you how to be on a team, it will teach you discipline, and at the same time it will teach you how to resolve a problem on your own."

Despite the challenges of weaving family dynamics into a team, both Nancy and her step-father are learning from their experiences and most importantly of all, keeping their family close together.

"That's it, my kids," Elvis said. "I have to be where my kids are."

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