Friday, October 21, 2016
Alumni perspective: Darren Whetstone reflects on DC SCORES experience
Darren Whetstone is a DC SCORES alumna, who participated in the program at Bunker Hill Elementary School from 2002 - 2005. She is a graduate from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Currently, she works as a Communications Associate for a global nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. In her spare time, Darren enjoys interior design blogging, catching a D.C. United game at RFK Stadium, and spending time with her family.
In 2002, I noticed a loudspeaker announcement made for students on the soccer team to head down to the main office so they could go to a game. Being a fan of the Washington Freedom, I thought I was the next Mia Hamm. So I signed up, but I didn’t know this small decision would change my life.
When I first started with DC SCORES’ Bunker Hill Beavers, I thought I would look cool as a striker — I could just score all the goals like Mia and the other kids would like me. Every practice I worked on just my bicycle kicks and punts, but that’s not how a team works.
Don’t be a sore loser
We had won our playoff game and were cheerfully getting back on the bus when two players from the opposing team made it point to come to the bus. I thought that they were coming to congratulate use again, but that wasn’t the case. They proceeded to make an inappropriate pose. It took less than a minute for all of the team to hop off the bus and chase the kids down the street. We caught up to them and brought them back to the coach so they could apologize. My coach told them that, “When you’re a part of a team, you’re not just representing you, you’re representing your team, your school, and your family. You don’t want to disappoint them, so be mindful of what you do.”
Becoming a captain isn’t just a title handed to you
In the fifth grade, I had been one of the longest-playing members on the team, so I assumed I would be one of the captains. I was wrong. My coach picked someone else and I was heartbroken. After practice, I complained and she said, “Being a leader doesn’t mean you can call the shots when you’re on the field. You have to be able to be a someone your team can depend on. You can’t just be a captain, you have to earn it.” The next season, I was voted captain.
Hard work brings great results
You don’t win a soccer game by just kicking a ball around a field. You win by working hard on your skills. My coach remarked, “If you set a goal, you have to work hard in order to succeed. That means, if you want to be better, keep practicing, but — don’t forget to have fun; great results also include you having a good time!”
Unfortunately, my time with DC SCORES ended when I entered middle school. However, I never forgot the lessons I learned. In fact, I still use these lessons to this day, nearly 10 years later. DC SCORES helped me become a better person with great soccer skills. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and how it’s shaped my life.
Thanks DC SCORES — you’re the real MVP.