With just 2 days between the end of spring soccer and the start of summer, we managed to onboard a stellar group of teen hires, who made sure that hundreds of youth benefited from weekly sports, enrichment activities, and mentorship. Their commitment meant we offered #SummerNights futsal at Riverfront Park, scrimmaging and skill-building at Pavilion Field, indoor trivia and movie nights, daytime camps like our 12th Annual Sport & Wellness Academy, and the return of our 'Beyond' pre-season training camp. All this activity, including sending youth to overnight experiences like Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy and college showcases (#TY EAP!), is because of our fantastic partners. #teameffort!

Very few days off this summer meant our community came first!

Despite a rainy, stormy summer, we still sponsored 211 hrs of programs, meaning we were active for 45 days, or 76% of the summer. But wait, when youth job activity is included, like CPR training, camp planning, and outings, we were busy on 95% of the days between June 27th and August 25th. This represents an increase in activity from 2022, especially during the evening, thanks to DCR's #SummerNights, a key objective for our team.

29 Lawrence youth worked or volunteered!

Based on regular feedback, when teens and young adults are responsible for engaging and activating play in the neighborhoods they grew up in, attendance & retention goes up. To honor those trends, 21 Summer #CoachMentors plus 8 volunteer Jr. Coaches from Lawrence (#CoachMentors in training!) led, coached, tracked, and planned out programs under the direction of Sr. Coach Mentors, Melissa, William & Declan (all alumni), plus Sadie (former Forest Foundation Intern & more), & Chris, Soccer Director.

Since June, 450+ youth have been impacted!

In our new fiscal year that kicked off July 1st, followed shortly after with our 12th Annual Sport & Wellness Academy on July 10th (camper pictured here), 450+ youth & teens have already benefited from Beyond Soccer. They've been morning campers, evening futsal players, youth jobs leaders & much more. For most, it means being part of multiple programs! "Beyond Soccer gives kids an opportunity to be active and engage with other kids of similar ages in a fun, safe environment.“- Camper Parent

New & Sustained Partners, Programs

Our partnership with the Forest Foundation continued this summer. Since 2019, it has helped us #beyond measure by placing and paying a #SummerIntern to make a difference in our programs. This year, we hosted Marveen, a Lawrence rising Jr. at Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. His interest in fitness & nutrition was a natural fit for our wellness priorities. He ran the wellness stations during our Sport & Wellness Camp and organized #SummerNights fitness. Plus, he worked with Sr. CoachMentor, Melissa, to run Fuel-4-Performance classes during our Pre-Season Performance Camp!

Our Summer staff ran "Beyond" Pre-Season Performance, our first camp at Pavilion Field. It engaged 63 teens and some of our go-to summer partners, like LPS Summer Meals programs for lunches. A highlight was hosting lunch in our enrichment space after a quick walk over the connecting bridge from the field! Additionally, the team builders were a noticeable highlight, says camp staffer William Inirio. “The games forced players to communicate and create groups with a wider spectrum of kids. It ensured they couldn’t just stick to their regular friend groups. These made great icebreakers that kicked off each day!”

Yes, we agree that "we are better together," and we’re thrilled to share that we partnered with the incredible #team of consultants at Brightspot to improve our development strategies and meet growing fundraising demands through a “trusting and supportive” environment that matches our community engagement approach. This is a core value from their site! More resources are required to meet growing family interest, improve our youth development through sports model, and find a replacement home for our SportCourt that’s still packed away due to the pandemic, and our Brightspot friends are #All-In!

Former player, Melissa, now Sr. leader studying nutrition education at UMass Lowell, had groups of 7th-12th graders (during the above pre-season camp) come inside to our HealthKicks! Teaching Kitchen to make pre-workout smoothies & energy-protein peanut butter balls. She also hosted an activity where players had to match the amount of sugar (separated in bags) to 7 different drinks (sodas, energy drinks and juices) without reading the nutritional labels. The amount of sugar in some of those bags was eye-opening. It was another hands-on learning success in another healthy, team-centered, environment.

$450K in Funding was Granted to 31 Non-Profits to Provide Equitable Access to Sports, and Beyond Soccer was one of those selected. Our Suenos Basketball friends from Lawrence, too! Link to August 8th press release!

“The PLAY Sports Coalition, a group of “thousands of stakeholders across the national and community youth sports industry, advocates for supporting youth development programs, young athletes, working families, coaches, and volunteers across all 50 states, particularly those in under-resourced areas.” It worked directly with the Maryland Office of Tourism Development and the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development to create and facilitate these grant opportunities.

Beyond Soccer, which prioritizes collaboration like PLAYS in solving problems, will use this investment to be more intentional with its leadership-through-sports strategies, like its summer jobs program. We also plan to formalize recruitment, engagement, training, and support pathways, including establishing an alumni network that better engages and communicates with former participants for program assistance, decision-making, board roles, and advisory leadership positions. It will also support more coaches' training, especially social-emotional learning & Girls-in-Sports approaches! READ MORE

Iris, the 7th of 11 siblings, immigrated from the Dominican Republic to Lawrence in 1992. She embraced her new surroundings and raised 2 wonderful boys, her complete "heart and soul." Despite hardship, she's been a doer and helper at every turn. She's led by example, including attending college and working for a wonderful Lawrence nonprofit for 20+ years. Part of that role transitioned adults into the workforce so they could better provide for their families, which she says was like reliving her own life but with the advantage of having more mentors.

Undoubtedly, Iris will apply these life lessons to help more families, but now through Beyond Soccer. That includes reigniting FUSE (Families United through Sports Experiences) and growing community partners. The aunt of long-time program alums Oriagna & William, Iris, has known about us since day 1, so this new role is meant to be! 

FUN FACT: Iris knows nothing about soccer! Honestly, it doesn't matter when you have a can-do, how can I help approach.

FAVORITE QUOTE: “How can I help you?”

21 Lawrence Teens worked 3,242 hrs for 9 weeks

It’s incredible the strong bonds we’ve witnessed between our summer youth hires, and what's especially motivating is how these bonds have meant better, more consistent programs for kids and a stronger sense of community, connection, friendship, and pride.” - Will Inirio

Also, Senior Coach Mentors Declan Murphy (2014 Lightning Team), Melissa Cartagena (2012 Bulldogs Team), and Sadie Farnsworth (1st Forest Foundation Intern) assisted Will in leading this group, which, in addition to all the above programming, meant...

--$50,000 in distributed youth wages.

--A great onboarding process with one-on-one interviews and First Aid certificates through Ellie's CPR and First Aid Training. It sets the tone for the seriousness of their roles; 

--Before taking the fields and courts, they organized cleanups of our camps/program locations at Kane and Riverfront Parks.

--Game nights and special dinners like on July 13th which coincided with the thoughtful sendoff of long-time Coach Mentor Andrea to Coastal Carolina U. in Florida. Chris’ speech reminded the crew that we're a year-round support system and stepping stone for all.”

The bonds are strengthening!

"For me, the Sport & Wellness camp was an amazing experience. I loved being able to give back to the program and community that helped me become the person I am today. Shaping the young minds of our generation was such a blessing. I hope that my being their mentor this summer will leave a lasting impression on them, and when they look back, they recognize how happy they were at that moment."

- Arabella (CCHS So.)

"On the first day of camp I was very excited to meet my group. They were excellent. They always listened to me, and were respectful and caring towards each other. They were always looking forward to the next drill or game that their coaches were going to give them. I am glad, I was blessed with such an amazing group. I also learned that I am a good coach and plan to work with a fall Lawrence Youth Soccer team."

- Issandel (NDCR Sr.)

"The only time I actually enjoy waking up in the morning is for Beyond Soccer. The great atmosphere we have as Coach Mentors working with kids is what makes me want to be here every day. To be able to develop kids' foot skills and have time to play games, eat icee's, paint faces, meet firefighters & play soccer with police makes this camp so unique. I will forever hold these memories to my heart."

- Luiz (NDCR Sr.)


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Lawrence Youth Soccer kicked off August 28th with 350 kids and growing! Follow updates on social media like Summer Coach Mentor Issandel leading his first travel team!

Thanks to the Red Sox Foundation, EAP's constant leadership, and recent City of Lawrence funding, our involvement in “LSA” with many sports friends is (re)-ramping up!

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