Last Thursday, September 14, a fresh crop of America SCORES New York coaches gathered in Harlem for a training day in preparation for the Fall season of our soccer and poetry program.
The energy was incredible and new friends mingled with familiar faces returning for another year of guiding our poet-athletes through the exciting times ahead.
After some form-filling and a boisterous ice-breaker, ASNY Executive Director Shannon Schneeman launched proceedings by officially welcoming the group before handing over to Program Director Zach Gomes and Soccer Program Manager Chloe Wheeler.
A rock/paper/scissors ice-breaker got everyone ready for the day of training!
Shannon (left) and Zach (right) launching the day of coach training.
The group then split for poetry training provided by Natalie Caro and soccer training which was led by Kevin Grogan and Joe Behan of Kevin Grogan Soccer.
Kevin Grogan leading soccer coaches through drills at Jacob Schiff Park.
We asked one of our new coaches, Olson Martinez (pictured below center), for his thoughts on the day and his hopes for the year ahead
"It was fantastic to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people who will make a difference in the lives of our youth both on the field and in the class room.
"Even if we are coming from a different background, we are all united by a soccer ball which represents the world.
"I will take it one day at time to accomplish my goals for the end of the season and beyond. One important goal will be to connect with every student and get to know their story so I can help each and every one of them.
"Soccer and poetry can change lives in so many ways. They both allow you to express yourself freely, whether that's speaking with your words or scoring a goal - it creates the same feeling because you are telling your story in your own words, so no one else can tell you the opposite.
"And they also offer access to a lot of possibilities, school, scholarships and a better, healthier life especially if you focus on what you want to accomplish in your life as a youth or adult.
"I will always tell the poet-athletes that if you give 100% on the field, you must give the same in the classroom because education is an important key to life.
"I started playing soccer before I even learned to read,in my village on the coast of Honduras - as a kid that's all we did. Poetry has become an amazing way to express myself and to connect with my ancestors.
"I want to inspire youth with my story so they can write their own and keep that chain of inspiration in their lives and the lives of others.
"Thank you again for the opportunity and for believing in me!"
Coaches team photo!