The coaches of DC SCORES give a lot to the program, so last Tuesday DC SCORES decided to give back to them. The nonprofit, which runs after-school soccer teams and poetry classes for more than 1,450 low-income D.C. youths, hosted an awards ceremony at the trendy Long View Gallery for its volunteers.
The event, attended by DC SCORES staff and board members, honored the commitment and teamwork displayed by its volunteers over the past year. The winners of the four awards—the Kennedy Awards for Coaching Commitment, the Mingo Roberts Coaching Excellence Award, the Teamwork Awards and the Chris Richardson Community Service Award—all shared an intense passion for working with students and supporting DC SCORES.
“She takes that energy…and love of the game of soccer and translates that to 30 students each day,” said Executive Director Amy Nakamoto of Leticia Lacomba, one of the winners of the Kennedy Awards. Simon Landau, winner of the Chris Richardson Award, even took the time to film a heartfelt acceptance while on the road, because he couldn’t make the event.
The reception also featured performances by two of DC SCORES’ young “poet-atheletes,” DeAndre Walters and Kastenny Contreras, who recited their original poetry. Although they’re both still in elementary school, Contreras and Walters have performed their poems in venues such as the Apollo Theater and the New York Stock Exchange.
When asked why he likes to write poetry, Walters said, “Because it lets me inspire myself without getting angry or making assumptions.”
Before the ceremony, attendees watched a brief video that showed how DC SCORES has influenced the lives of other students. One, Nana, came to the U.S. an angry, disturbed kid. He couldn’t speak English and would often bite and kick other children. Once he started playing soccer through DC SCORES, his behavior and confidence vastly improved. Now, at 16, he works with kids as a soccer coach through the program.
Although working with students can be challenging, it’s this kind of creative and athletic expression that makes DC SCORES so rewarding, both for the coaches and for the students.
“If they don’t behave, they can’t participate,” said Kevin Scott, a DC SCORES coach at C.W. Harris Elementary. “They curb their behavior, because this is something they want to go to.”