Melissa joined our programs after immigrating from Guatemala 11 years ago. She joined the Gr. 6 Bulldogs right away, a team she now coaches! Melissa has always played and loved soccer, as long as she can remember. After graduating from LHS Abbot Academy with honors and contributing to its girls’ varsity soccer team for four years (tennis, plus track & field, too), she is now a sophomore at UMass Lowell studying biological sciences with a minor in nutrition and Spanish! Melissa also competes for UMass Lowell’s club soccer team. In addition to her full class schedule, she stays busy working for “Beyond Soccer” as a Sr. Coach Mentor, helping us organize, communicate, and lead our many on-and-off-the-field programs, with a particular emphasis on growing our health and wellness programs. Currently she‘s developing our Fuel for Performance curriculum. Her leadership role of the Bulldogs (above) and the Gr. 1 & 2 girls Lioness squads in 2022, has translated into her coaching the Gr. 8 Wolverines! She’s also a dog mom!
Former Beyond Soccer middle & high school player Issandel is on the sidelines with us this fall. His role, not only as a committed, former travel player but as a Summer Coach Mentor through our youth jobs program, has advanced our program in so many ways. He stood out for his excellent communication skills and, as shared in his initial job application, likes “hands-on jobs and opportunities that allow him to be creative.” That’s why, after an impactful summer, his new role as Coach Mentor of the Grade 6 Rebels Team is a perfect fit. Issandel is constantly recognized for showing up early, doing extra, and going “beyond” for others. Issandel, a Notre Dame Cristo Rey graduate, is a Southern New Hampshire University freshman. His favorite subject is math, and he wants to pursue mechanical engineering. Issandel also has two siblings and a dog named Marco!
Why I want to Coach: “I see young players learning fast. That’s why I love coaching–they use what I show them in their games.”
Fredy is originally from Medellin, Columbia, where he developed his love of soccer. Fortunately for Beyond Soccer, this season, Fredy has taken over the reins as Coach Mentor for the Grade 4 Lionness, the team his youngest daughter also plays for. Fredy has been part of our program for 7 years but is on the sidelines, watching his son go through the program. PS, his son, Jacob, after many years of playing, became a Jr. Coach and a Summer Coach Mentor, which is part of our leadership through sports focus. You can hear Fredy on the sidelines saying, “Good job, girls.” He’s a very positive sideline addition, with his favorite part of coaching is “seeing and supporting their progress.” This fall, Fredy is getting some assistance from his wife, a long-time Beyond Soccer parent who helped arrange the program’s first off-the-field pizza party in our enrichment space. It’s obvious Fredy is #All-In, with every member of his family benefiting and contributing somehow.
Why Coach: He “loves to see and support player progress.”
Beyond Soccer alumni, Donovan, who started in our programs 7 years ago, is currently a UMass Lowell junior. He recently took on the responsibility of #Coach Mentor of our Grade 3 Developmental Team, the Eagles, a place for Donovan and the players to “develop” more skills and experience before they enter the travel league in the spring. What stuck out from Donovan’s recent sharing was that “he remembered when he was growing up, soccer wasn’t as popular as it is now, and it’s amazing to see how much it has transformed in the city of Lawrence.” That’s awesome and motivating to learn from our teen leaders. Today, Donovan steps up and in whenever and wherever he can while staying committed to his classes, friends, and teammates, like #CoachMentor Isslandel, whom he’s pictured with at his May high school graduation. He shows up consistently every Monday, Wednesday & Saturday to help with equipment set up for all teams, including his Eagles—other days, too, when Director Chris calls.
Why Coach? “I like to coach the youth because it reminds me of when I used to practice back then with Beyond.”
David, a Lawrence High School graduate, is a prime example of our leadership-through-sports model, having been part of Beyond Soccer, according to David, his “whole life.” Yes, he’s contributed to numerous Lawrence travel team rosters, like the first-ever Grade 6 Thunder squad in 2011/2012 and many playoff-bound teams.
“I’ve been in love with the game called soccer since the age of 4.” That love translated into his recent coaching role as the Grade 4 Lions lead Coach Mentor. This role is coming naturally to David this fall, having gained a lot of experience working with young people since middle school as a Junior #CoachMentor, as well as through the LPS Intramural Program, helping coach and referee its soccer league as a high school student-athlete. David was a fierce defender and still plays in a local men’s league.
Why David wants to Coach: He wants to teach young people the sport that has dramatically impacted his life. His family immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, and they have a deep connection to the sport.
To say that Davin loves soccer is a complete understatement. Since an early age, growing up in Guatemala, he has always loved soccer and remains grateful for all the opportunities to play in his native city. Today, after immigrating to Lawrence 20 years ago, he brings that love with him, sharing his passion for the game with his two boys and taking over the reins as head #CoachMentor of the Gr. 6 Rebels Team this fall. Darvin was part of our coaching staff pre-Covid, returning this year to continue his role, which has become a special purpose. Darvin shares that he likes teaching young people both the theoretical aspects of soccer and the game’s practical physical and verbal components, all while reinforcing the importance of education like Beyond Soccer does.” Darvin always gives 100% (you should see him on that pitch!), which he expects from his players in return, regardless of their skill level.
Why Coach? "I like seeing the children have fun and for the opportunity to support them in realizing their dreams.
Dominic, a Lawrence resident from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, has strong community ties near and far. He stepped into a leadership role at Beyond Soccer many years ago. His passion for the game, plus his knowledge and soccer experience, including professional play, have made him a great fit. In addition to coordinating practices, games, and off-the-field events for many different Lawrence Youth Soccer travel teams, this fall, he is leading the Gr. 8 Strikerz, a crucial age for mentorship before they head off to high school. Apart from being with his family (see fun fact), Dominic says, "I’ve found another family which is beyond soccer." Dominic, a jack of all trades, who works in the trade field, continues to play soccer competitively in his spare time. Also, Dominic, who regularly returns to his native island, loves distributing gear, through Beyond Soccer, to passionate young soccer players in St. Vincent, getting his Lawrence players and Coach Mentors involved in the philanthropy!
Fun Fact: His 2 daughters participate in Beyond Soccer!
An important part of our coaching model is connecting youth who have grown up in our programs to leadership roles as Coach Mentors and Jr. Coach Mentors. This is now a year-round effort, but it is most obvious over the summer months, which started with our first camp in 2011!! Below are some more recent stats:
- In Summer 2019, 17 Summer Hires, including 10 Beyond Soccer high school graduates and college students who grew up in our programs, worked as Coach Mentors running our summer camps that reached 500+ kids.
- Summer 2020 was more difficult with COVID-19, cutting our summer staff in half, but 8 Summer Coach Mentors persevered, engaging 245 youth and teens.
- In summer 2022, we were relieved to be back on fields, with 345 hours of physical activity programs run and coordinated by 38 youth hires and volunteers, kicking off on Saturday, June 26th, with a full menu of morning, afternoon, and evening programs that ran through Friday, August 26th.
- The most recent summer, $50,000 in youth wage support, training, and professional development ensured that 21 employed Summer Coach Mentors impacted more than 400 Lawrence youth for 10 weeks through day and evening sports camps and enrichment programs between June 28 and August 26, 2023.
- Long-time partners like ECCF, Mass Hire, New Balance, Stevens Foundation, and Amelia Peabody Foundation contribute to these efforts, and thanks to DCR’s #Summer Nights program, we were also able to offer more evening programs benefiting families with more complicated work schedules.
“It’s incredible the strong bonds we’ve witnessed between our summer youth hires, and what’s especially motivating is how these bonds have meant better, more consistent programs for kids and a stronger sense of community, connection, friendship, and pride.”
“Summer Nights were an amazing part of the year and my summer job. I loved seeing the kids’ faces light up every time we scrimmage. Even though, sadly, summer nights are over, the kids made my day, or actually, evening. I’m very excited about doing it all over again next summer and making an even bigger impact.”