One of my favorite components of the Playworks program is the youth developmental sports leagues. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with students, help them develop confidence, watch them grow as athletes, team members, and as members of their community. At the start of the new school year, I was very excited to put together a soccer team. Unfortunately, one of my least favorite tasks is to choose which students will have the opportunity to participate. This year, I had so many students turn in permission slips for the soccer team that I dreaded making the final cut!
However, there was one student who I absolutely knew that I wanted to include as a team member. This student, Jerry*, is well known throughout the school for his larger-than-life personality. He is funny and charming but at times he is prone to angry outbursts to teachers and other students. Another issue that Jerry has faced in his life is his family’s lack of transportation. Due to this lack of transportation, Jerry has often not been able to be a part of after school activities.
With transportation secured, I selected Jerry to be a member of Bugg Elementary’s Playworks soccer team. Jerry was so excited by the opportunity to be on a soccer team and that his family was able to arrange transportation for him for after practice! Over the last few weeks of practice I have noticed the positive impact that being a part of the team has had on Jerry. First, at practice, he started to become more positive with his teammates. Then, at recess, I saw him participate at the soccer station and encourage other students with high fives. Finally, I noticed the obvious pride Jerry has about his status as a member of the soccer team. He frequently talks to other students about practice and how much fun he has. Additionally, he has invited all of his former fourth grade teachers and his current fifth grade teacher to watch him play at the Soccer Jamboree and they have accepted his invitation.
Even after the end of the season, I believe that the sense of pride and accomplishment that Jerry has gained from participating in this league will continue to have a positive impact throughout the school year!
*Name has been changed.