Confessions of a former Pre-K Teacher

– Guest post by Coach Kim

 Confessions of a former Pre K Teacher

As a new coach and as a former teacher I just wanted to take some time and share my unique experience with Soccer Shots.

My first impression, having seen the program at the school where I used to teach, was that it was just another soccer program, but the more I saw the more I realized it was so much more.

Every week I saw how all the kids that were signed up were so excited to go. They even made sure that mom or dad did not forget to bring their orange Soccer Shots shirt to wear. I also saw how full of energy and excitement the coach was every week when he/she came to pick the children up from class. When I witnessed the children at a class, I saw all the skills they were learning and all the fun they were having with the games, that I became intrigued. It made me want to learn more about what Soccer Shots was all about. I went online and read all about the program, the age specific curriculum, and how well rounded the program is.

At this point I was looking for something different in a job, and I felt that not only could I still work with kids as a coach with Soccer Shots, I could also incorporate my other passion which is exercise. I loved the fact that I could still teach the kids a lot of important life lessons such as sharing, teamwork, respect and so much more. I also believed that since I have worked in two different states and a total of five years with children, and hold two different Personal Training certificates that I could bring a lot of knowledge with me to help support these kids.

I was also excited to see how different it would be working with children out on the field instead of in the classroom. I realized that coaches deal with a lot of the same things that teachers do. Each child is unique and each learns differently and as a coach I needed to see how I could relate to each individual child and how I could teach them. I’ve had the chance to shadow and work with so many great Soccer Shots coaches so far and I see how they are able to do that almost effortlessly as they get to know each class and each child.

I feel that working with children is so rewarding, whether it is in a classroom, out on the field, or wherever else learning and fun can happen, and I feel so privileged that Soccer Shots made my transition so smooth.

I also wanted to say thank you to all the coaches out there. You really don’t know how much joy you bring to these children every week. Its really all they would talk about, so remember that every time you go out there. For that half hour to an hour you are their whole world and I’m proud to say that I am now a part of that world.

The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

Mentoring Works The Mentoring Effect + Soccer ShotsJanuary was first designated National Mentoring Month in 2002, and while the concept of mentoring has been around pretty much forever, researchers and educators have since made it a priority to back up the idea with evidence.

This month, 12 years after the Inaugural National Mentoring Month, MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, has released some impressive, encouraging, and profound research.

In their research, published as The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspective on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring (2014), MENTOR concludes the following:

  •  There are two types of mentoring relationships, Informal/Unstructured and Formal/Structured. Informal mentoring relationships usually form between a young person and a family friend, a teacher, or a coach. Formal mentoring relationships are developed and matched with a purpose, often through schools and community groups.
  • Young people with mentors are more likely to report positive behaviors, like graduating from college, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, and often hold leadership positions in the activities they engage in.
  • Youth believe mentoring provides them with the guidance and support they need to live productively. More specifically, young people in informal mentoring relationships often stated that their mentor provided developmental support, over academic support, talking with them more often about making good decisions and staying motivated in life.
  • One in three young people, and even more at-risk youth, report that they never had a mentor growing up. That means, nationwide, today approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor.

Coach Andy Charles1 e1390524464198 The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

MENTOR (2014) goes on to identify mentoring as a critical link in the chain of outcomes for youth today, that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities. 

So… as our Soccer Shots Coaches head out onto the soccer field and talk about our character words each week, we like to think we are planting the seeds for many, or at the very least, one, meaningful mentor in each child’s life. It’s not just about developing young soccer players, but developing stronger youth, beyond the game.

Reference: The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. (2014). MENTOR: Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/mentoringeffect

The Process

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Jorge)

Jorge The Process

When I first started working for Soccer Shots I was very excited, but nervous. With a coaching background I felt more than capable. The only differences I found with Soccer Shots were the younger age groups and the focus on the non-competitive side of soccer.

Before, for me, coaching was about trophies and accomplishments… However, through my time with Soccer Shots I’ve seen how a smile and the feeling of pride for a child is 1,000 times more rewarding than a piece of hardware that will eventually just collect dust.

As coaches, we are these children’s real life super heroes. From seeing them trying to master every soccer move I show them, to hearing stories from parents about how their child pretends to coach like me when they’re at home. It’s honestly one of the best feelings anyone can have. Those high fives before and after class just give you that extra push in your every day agenda. They remind you why you are doing this, they keep you humbled and always excited to look for new ways to make class that much better for each child.

Before I became the coach you see at parks and schools, I had a lot of help along the way. I cannot begin to think about what my classes would be like without the help I received from other coaches and directors. From shadowing coaches and picking up on their coaching techniques, to seeing how they address certain situations, our coaches and directors are part a never ending learning process. Its amazing knowing that the sky is the limit for making every family’s experience extra special, and also making Soccer Shots the best youth soccer program out there.

As we get into the winter session, I can’t begin to imagine all the fun I’m going to have, not only coaching, but beginning to write for the blog and share my experiences with all of you! 🙂

Learning From Mandela

(Guest Post from Mark Miller, Owner, Soccer Shots Buffalo)

It’s truly amazing what you can realize as an adult.

When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, I thought of his contributions to South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement, and his status as a world symbol for peace and unity.

But over the weekend, while browsing social media posts about the former leader, I was reminded of something that I had heard and was vaguely aware of: his love of sport. Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”

SS Mandela Learning From Mandela

I was so moved by that quote. It’s so true at Soccer Shots. Small children from disparate backgrounds are all one and the same on our ‘Soccer Island’ while kicking a ball around and cheering each other on as they shoot a goal.

I thought it was important to share what was behind Mandela’s inspirational words. It can be a great opportunity for a discussion with your kids on many topics, from acceptance to forgiveness.

South Africa was racially segregated, as many know. That segregation extended even into the sporting world. In 1995, Mandela joined a crowd comprised of predominantly white South Africans at the Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks, the South African team, was playing. They won, and Mandela presented the white captain with the trophy. This was captured in the 2009 film, Invictus.

It started a movement, and the Springboks’ success galvanized the entire nation. By reaching out with an olive branch, Mandela united his country around the sport. The jerseys, once-hated because they were seen as whites-only apparel, became ubiquitous on whites and blacks alike.

Captain Francois Pienaar said of that moment when Mandela handed him the trophy, “We didn’t have the support of 63,000 South Africans today. We had the support of 42 million.”

We’re always amazed at the power of sport (especially soccer) because it puts all countries on a worldwide stage, like the upcoming World Cup — but it’s incredible to think that a leader as influential as Nelson Mandela saw sports the same way. He not only realized this, but actually made use of this to bring about change!

Happy New Year Updates for 2014

As we enter a new year (our 7th here in Los Angeles!) we are grateful for the thousands of families that participate in our program each year. We also realize that this could not be done without a dedicated and unique team of individuals who all share a common vision for Soccer Shots. I wanted to share a couple of important things that will be new to our organization in 2014.

Happy New Year 2014 1 1 Happy New Year Updates for 2014

1) Full Time Coaches. We have begun transitioning and will continue to do so in 2014 from part time coaches to primarily full time coaches. This is a big step for us and one that we feel truly makes us unique among other children’s enrichment programs. We believe this move will further improve the quality and reliability of our coaches and provide a program that in the end is an extremely high value for the families and schools that we serve.

2) Group Health Insurance. All eligible full time employees will have the opportunity to enroll in our group health insurance. The plan has been set up and as of today five members of our team are taking advantage of this benefit. By the end of the year I expect that we will have over ten employees participating in our group health insurance. We believe this will make for a healthier and happier team of directors and coaches! And as a company we feel really good about being able to offer this benefit.

In addition to these two updates there will be others as well throughout the year. All in an effort to improve on a program which is already loved and appreciated by more than 5,000 families and over 100 schools in Los Angeles each year.

Happy New Year!

We look forward to seeing you out on the field in 2014!