Succeeding On and Off The Field Through the Sport of Soccer
Going Beyond With Our Healthy Cooking Courses
“This is actually pretty good!” It’s a common response to our Tuesday evening cooking classes. Some of our most popular recipes include Quinoa, Mango Jicama Salad; Kale White Bean & Spicy Chorizo Soup; and Stuffed Zucchini Boats. Yes, zucchini and quinoa have been a huge hit! The kids, mostly 6th-8th grade students, have been using their laminated recipe cards to recreate the recipes “beyond” the classroom, with their families. Many parents stay to observe their children in action -prepping, dicing, slicing and baking – and request recipe cards of their own. This is especially encouraging because family participation is a critical component of long term health; our ultimate goal.
With inspiration from popular nutrition/cooking based TV series, such as The Taste, we divide our group into teams of 3-4 and a head chef is tasked with delegating weekly responsibilities. Working collaboratively, the teams prepare their own recipes, followed by dish presentations and finally taste testing. Encouraging a fun, hands on, sometimes messy, learning environment, supports the creative process and increases the likelihood that our kids will try new foods and techniques in their own kitchens. These cooking classes, when combined with year-round soccer play and other Health Kicks initiatives (gardening, speed & agility training…), give our kids the best chance to develop positive relationships with exercise and food that will improve their overall health.
Kids On The Move This Winter
Beyond Soccer kids have been busy with futsal league play, indoor soccer training, leadership events, cooking programs, tutoring sessions and new science and art initiatives with the Merrimack River Watershed Council. When you include our school-day soccer and wellness program at the Guilmette Elementary School, more than 146 kids have been reached since December. Remember we are not your typical sports program!
Our “Beyond” focus is a top priority during winter months. We recognize that 9-10 weeks of soccer play in the spring and fall is not enough, so we keep attracting partners and other resources that align with our off the field academic, leadership and health objectives. It is obvious that our kids love sports, but what is even more obvious is how much they love being with their coaches and teammates. Learning is more meaningful when it is shared, and a lot has been shared this winter.
Empowering Experience at Simmons College
A group of Beyond Soccer middle and high school girls attended the 2nd Annual Empowerment through Sports Leadership Series at Simmons College on Saturday, February 1st. It was an inspiring event, spearheaded by former two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Angela Hucles, that united some of the nation’s most influential business leaders, professional athletes, doctors, nutritionists and leadership experts.
The girls spent the day in small breakout sessions, exploring important topics affecting their lives today, including health, peer pressure, family, relationships, team, sport and school. “The conference was great. I am not going to use “can’t” in my vocabulary.” – Yomis Santana, Lawrence High School freshman. “Today was so much fun. One of the most memorable moments was when my teammate, Zoe Marrero, got up in front of everyone and danced. She was not afraid, and then others followed.” – Gabriella Vargas. “I learned that working as a group and listening to one another so everyone can contribute is very important.”– Daniella Vargas, 8th grade student. Danny and her sister, Gabby, have been involved in Beyond Soccer programs for 2 1/2 years.
These are the types of experiences and partners we seek out for our kids. Exposure to new places, people and possibilities, help our young people reach their full potential. This year we are especially committed to strengthening the “beyond” in our name and this opportunity is doing just that. A special thanks to the Banks Baldwin Foundation for funding this unique learning experience.
Player Shout Out! Meet Pedro Lopez
Pedro has been a fixture in Beyond Soccer programs, even before Beyond Soccer officially launched. Our initial introduction was at the run down West Street field in 2008. Pedro was only 9, but already playing with men. Pedro developed a passion for the game from his father, Alfredo, who came to Lawrence from Guatemala in 1992. It was exciting to watch Pedro with a ball at his feet and to witness the unbridled energy of those West Street kids and parents, including Alfredo, during that Sunday morning pickup match. It only fueled our commitment to connecting kids, like Pedro, to new experiences that help them reach their full potential. Naturally, Pedro was eager to meet us and learn about our programs and teams. The more soccer the better. The soccer pitch was where he, along with so many other Lawrence youth who have joined our programs since 2007, felt the most comfortable.
Pedro has not had an easy journey. He lost his father, a single dad, to a brief battle with stomach cancer. It was a devastating blow to Pedro. We were so worried when we did not hear from Pedro, an especially gregarious boy, for 4 months. However, like so many kids who join our programs and drift for various reasons, he found his way back. He wanted to reunite with his soccer family. It was a significant part of the healing process.
Fast forward 6 years, and Pedro is now a 9th grade, honor roll student at the Greater Lawrence Technical School. He was selected as a 2013 Commonwealth Conference All Star because of his versatility at the goalkeeper and striker positions. He also received a scholarship to play for the competitive Benfica Club soccer program. In fact, this weekend he heads to New York for a college showcase. The exposure and support Pedro has received through his Beyond Soccer experiences has set him on a different path. He has different visions of his future now. Pedro also knows that we always have his back and that soccer, combined with his classroom efforts, will help him achieve his life and career goals.
#PlayItForward for sports in 2021 this giving season!