Written by Jake Lloyd
The fall DC SCORES season came to a close Tuesday afternoon at Cardozo High School during a pair of Capital Cup championship games that demonstrated what the program means to kids, their schools, and their schools' greater communities.
As the Truesdell Education Campus girls team stood for the national anthem alongside their opponent DC International, a large contingent of Truesdell boys stood in the stands. Even as the afternoon light disappeared and the temperature plunged, the boys -- and dozens of parents and community members -- stayed to cheer on the Trojans.
"Nereida's been a special player all year and if anyone was going to do it, it was going to be Nereida," Truesdell co-coach Adam Zimmermann said. "We talked about leadership at the beginning of the game, and we focused on it with her. She came through for her teammates."
Under the light as spectators huddled closer to each other for warmth, the Raymond Education Campus boys team played like a well-oiled machine. Using one pass after another, the ball rarely sticking to one player's foot, the team in red moved possession up the field and capitalized on their opportunities for a 2-0 win over Capital City Public Charter School.
Raymond's boys have won back-to-back Capital Cup titles, and their girls won it the year before. The reason? They really like each other, according to coach David Petersen.
"This team has been amazing," Petersen said afterward, his players passing the trophy around behind him. "The way they've passed and shared the ball, no one is selfish, no one wants the credit, and they've come together.
"We have a lot of new kids -- some sixth-graders -- and they've all kind of blended. It's been fun to coach."
DC SCORES is a huge part of both schools' communities. And not just the soccer. Zimmermann smiled while recounting what a whirlwind few years of SCORES it's been for Truesdell. Because of immense popularity, the education campus (K-8) added the middle school program in 2014. And now, kids from all grades participate in soccer, writing and service sessions.
You'll never see a small team from Truesdell at a game day or on stage at the Poetry Slam!. Speaking of that event, the Trojans have won multiple trophies at the Slam! over the past few years including the middle school taking home the coveted Golden Mic award.
"I think it caps off a really good run," Zimmermann said Tuesday. "Mr (Charles) Robinson has led this program for the last 15 years from barely getting enough players out to having a consistent program with almost two teams of each girls and boys in our middle school and our elementary school as well.
"So I think that this is one of a series of accomplishments that we're very proud of and I'm most proud that the boys and girls have been able to come together each time to make something special out of each opportunity."
At Raymond, the kids are probably already thinking about the spring DC SCORES season. That's how eagerly they anticipate each session together. And not just the poet-athletes.
Petersen keeps a text chain with a large group of parents, informing them about schedule changes and other chances to see their kids and support the Raymond community. He wasn't surprised by the dozens of families and friends who came out Tuesday in the chill.
"When we play at Tubman (Elementary School), a normal game, it's usually the same," Petersen said. "They always come out. The parents have been amazing. They're always very supportive.
"They give us a lot of love."
And on Tuesday, both Truesdell and Raymond gave those watching an incredible scene, too.