This past week the men's and women's soccer teams of Pine Manor College embarked on two separate community service endeavors in the name of giving back to the community and giving back to the game they love – soccer.
On Monday April 25th the teams traveled to East Boston to Lo Presti Park on the shore of the Boston Harbor to put on a clinic for 30 high school-aged players in the America SCORES Boston program.
America SCORES Boston mission is to strengthen at-risk youth through after school programs that promote health, academic advancement and development of the whole child. Through youth development programming based around soccer, academics and the arts, the mission of America SCORES Boston is to inspire Boston youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world.
Many of those America SCORES players had just previously visited Chestnut Hill for a tour of Pine Manor College and a question-and-answer session with several players from the men's and women's soccer teams about what it takes to be a college athlete and how the recruiting process works.
With the city skyline in the background, the Pine Manor teams enjoyed teaching the aspiring players about defensive tactics and giving them additional feedback about their overall play.
"Being a youth soccer coach and seeing the organization of a structured practice where we don't have these troubles that some of these kids have, it was great to see the joy that a sport can bring to (the America SCORES players)," men's soccer captain Alejandro Moreno said. "Teaching these kids that they have another choice, they can play sports to take their minds of their troubles, they don't have to be out wandering by themselves, they can be a part of an organization with good ideals. That's the most fulfilling aspect for me.
"Being a minority and living in an area that I know kids with those same situations," continued Moreno, who comes from a Mexican-American family in the San Diego, CA community. "It's awesome being able to help those kinds of people by having a fun day where they don't have to worry about what could happen to them. It's always good to go out and help."
Tyanna Matthews, Erin Epps, Elizabeth Anderson, Ellis Woods, Brian Wade, and Moreno then volunteered at the Blue Hills Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester Friday with a group of 10-12-year-old boys and girls.
Filled with energy and enthusiasm, the kids were eager participants in a number of different games, some of which incorporated a ball and some did not. It was an action-packed two hours in which both groups had a lot of fun.
"Basketball is life for those kids, and it was fun and good to see them experiencing playing new a new sport," women's team captain Elizabeth Anderson stated. "We had a blast, and it feels even better even if we only reached one kid. That kid may someday to go on to inspire more kids."
"I love helping kids stay out of trouble, I do work with organizations like these back home (in Maryland) every summer," continued freshman women's player Erin Epps. "The world can be a bad place, and watching these kids smile, run around, and have fun was an awesome time."
Blue Hills Boys and Girls Club Athletic Director Mason Williams said the Pine Manor students brought a lot of life and joy to the young participants.
"The kids had an amazing time, really enjoyed all the games from 'soccer tag' to 'capture the soccer balls,' Williams expressed. "The games that (Pine Manor) showcased were new, exciting, energizing, spot on for our group of kids. I know the kids will be asking to play capture the flag with soccer balls everyday now! The student-athletes were great, really engaging in the games with the youth. Made soccer cool and fun for the kids that didn't have an interest in the sport. We have had a lot of soccer clinics come by and do soccer drills with the kids, but this was one of the most I have seen our pre-teens actively involved in. Awesome job Pine Manor, we hope to see you soon."
All in all, the teams had two thoroughly enjoyable experiences where they hope to continue to build on the relationships they created.