OLLU soccer teams mentor and coach youngsters from YWCA
Men's Soccer - Mon, Feb. 28, 2011
SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 28, 2011) -- Every Tuesday and Thursday, St. Martin Hall's Practice Field is a buzz with Our Lady of the Lake University soccer players-in-training. As a part of the YWCA and OLLU's collaboration, 80 youngsters come to participate with the help of 32 OLLU soccer players and coaches.
The OLLU Soccer Community Service Project that kicked off on Feb. 22 is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character program that aims to instill five core values in NAIA athletes and coaches: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership, and sportsmanship.
In 2008, YMCA's Lee Williams and his colleague Nick Evans wanted to make a new addition to the Positive Youth Development (PYD) program by adding soccer as one of the many sports offered. The first year they worked with the University of Incarnate Word, and the second year, they collaborated with both UIW and OLLU. Now, in their third year, they are working with just OLLU and using the OLLU soccer facilities rather than the Las Palmas softball fields they had used in prior years.
In the program, the OLLU soccer players are paired up and are assigned to be either a head or assistant coach to a group of kids, their team.
"We teach the kids the basics for soccer," says Gary Hamilton, a junior and captain of the soccer team at the Lake, "We are trying to show these kids the basics of the sport, while, at the same time, making it as much fun as possible."
"My favorite part would have to be their reactions," says junior soccer athlete Bianca Ramirez. "Little kids have no control over what they say or do and it makes the time out there so much more fun; I have found myself in tears from laughing so hard."
Not only do the kids have fun learning about soccer, they get many positive role models out of it.
Watch a short video of the soccer action at OLLU.
"It means a lot to me," says Loni Sepulveda, mother of Alexis, 8, who is in the program, "it's better than being in the streets, it gets her in sports."
Alexis says soccer seemed fun and she wanted to try. "I like kicking the ball," she says.
Christina Castruita has a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old daughter, Mariah and Miranda, in the program. She says Mariah came home and said she wanted to be a soccer goalie, and Miranda wanted to join because her big sister was doing it.
"It's good for the kids," says Christina, "They're having fun."
"I truly hope we can continue this partnership in the future and will be invited back for many years to come," says Williams, "I can't imagine a better, more productive partnership within our local community."
The community is invited to come out and watch the group play at the field across the street from the University. They are out there from 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through mid-April.