When I joined the America SCORES program team in August, I was overjoyed that the majority of my days would be spent coaching or being involved with soccer in some capacity, but I must admit I wasn’t sure how the poetry side of the program would play out in action and was eager to see the kids perform. I didn’t have to wait long!
In my short time here so far, I have already been able to see that it is not only the opportunity to play soccer and be part of a team, but also the opportunity to create and perform, that can speak volumes to our kids. At our summer camp, we had the chance to spend a day playing street soccer at the Harlem Street Fair on 137th and Broadway, but the real highlight of that day wasn’t just the soccer—it was watching some of our kids get up on the outdoor stage and perform a poem they had written at camp. Although some were hesitant at first, I was able to see that through a kid’s eyes, the opportunity to perform on a stage—just like the opportunity to perform on the soccer field—can be an important opportunity to matter. Just yesterday, I dropped by a writing class at P.S. 325 where they were discussing what their magical world would look like, and I had the pleasure of seeing kids’ faces light up with ideas—think nerds’ rope trees, chocolate fountains, and marshmallow clouds in a candy land paradise.
Seeing their minds working brought me back to when I had been introduced to the world of creative writing. I remembered how special it felt to be able to construct my own stories with all the new knowledge I was gaining, as every day there was something new to write about, thanks to the creativity and thoughtfulness of my teachers. Although admittedly my childhood journals and mementos may be collecting dust somewhere in a closet back home, the memories and the individuality those opportunities instilled in me will stick. SCORES offers these opportunities and then some—I can now see how the experiences on the soccer field and the poetry pitch can be so powerfully connected, especially when supplemented by the hard work and passion of our teacher-coaches!