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Succeeding on and off the fields & courts,

through the sports of soccer & volleyball

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It's been another banner summer, with few days off. But program quality vs. quantity is most important and why feedback like this is incredibly motivating. “My 7-yr-old son is becoming more fanatical about soccer. Over the summer, I found a way to increase his love of sports while having fun and creating new friendships, which is also important to me. Spaces such as these should receive even more support from the city and other orgs to ensure that children of scarce resources also have the opportunity to enjoy a space that guarantees learning, sport, & safety.”- Parent

Beyond was one of 74 organizations selected across the state to ensure youth in underserved communities go every opportunity to play and learn from positive role models in healthy activity. Summer Nights ensures 100% of programs are free. In total 257 youth benefited from futsal & volleyball, including “beyond” the field & court activities in the "Beyond" space like movie nights, fitness, crochet, healthy food prep, and more! #TY. READ MORE about DCR’s important program!

This #leadershipthroughsport focus started with our first Sport & Wellness Camp eleven summers ago. Today, this expanding commitment meant $65,000+ raised in wages, plus jobs training and gear. Immeasurable benefits, reported in the recent jobs surveys, were the friendships formed and strengthened between the jobs cohort. Like sports, they become a team, banding together on and off the field and courts, solving problems like relocating indoors due to extreme heat, improving camper registration efficiencies, or going #beyond for a family or player in need.

Summer Program Highlights!

Beyond Volley Sponsored 70 hrs of Clinics 3x/wk this Summer

This off-season effort included gym rentals at the YMCA & YWCA, plus permits at the South Common Park's Multi-Sport Court, which contributed to 89 young people, ages 6-18, staying busy–indoors & out–learning from positive role models as they participat-ed in technical drills, skill building activities, games, & fitness challenges. As you can see from this "Head, Shoulder, Knees & Ball" video, our older leaders, or mostly former players (yes, #CoachMentors, Jai, and Randal up front), continue to lead, cheer and motivate by example!

Problem-Solving is Easier with our "Beyond" Program Space

Sometimes with only 30 mins before a program start, we learn that a court is double booked or a summer storm is rolling in. So what do our Coach Mentors do? They relocate to our #BeyondFit space @ Riverwalk Innovation District to ensure kids still benefit from exercise, team-building, and mentorship. Our last newsletter gave props to Sentinel Benefits for funding this buildout. The rewards of that investment are paying off in ways we cannot monetize, reminding us of the importance of facilities to provide more consistent access.

"26 Coach Mentors & Staff Earn CPR & AED Certs this summer"

We hosted two summertime CPR trainings with Ellie’s CPR and First Aid Training. Both started at 8:30 a.m. and took advantage of our #BeyondFit turfed space and training room. This means that almost 100% of our staff are CPR & AED certified, a job and life-saving skill that can be used far beyond our program's reach. Investing in our team means investing in the community! For our youth hires, this also meant most reporting a stronger sense of accomplishment.

90 Lawrence youth participated in evening futsal programs.

Remember futsal, the small-sided fast-paced version of soccer played with a heavier ball on a court? It’s perfect for urban settings, where large fields are hard to come by. This summer, kids aged 4 to 18 played 5 weeknights at Riverfront Park, a Lawrence location managed by the Dept. of Conservation & Recreation–a perfect fit for our first DCR Summer Nights partnership. Also, 11 different youth hires instructed these youth participants under Soccer Director Chris Marin's tutelage.

The 11th Annual Sport & Wellness Academy engaged 170 registered Lawrence elementary & middle schoolers in daily sports, wellness, teambuilding, play, healthy treats, and mentorship.

Our team also didn’t skip a beat dealing with the intense heat. We rescheduled two intense heat days due to July’s heat emergency to August, demonstrating our commitment to ensuring kids get the full benefits from our camp experience. Further, this opportunity was led by 30 different Coach Mentors, Jr. Coaches, and volunteers, who, for the large majority, grew up in our programs and were past camp participants. They also coordinated the Lawrence Police, Lawrence Fire, Lawrence Library, and, of course, the Icee Truck to enhance camper benefits. Here’s some of the feedback from our campers and parents!

"I love Beyond programs because I can make sure that my kids are active and healthy." - Parent

"She had never played volleyball so we motivated her to go to camp. She liked it a lot & commented to me that everyone is very nice, interacts a lot & there are a variety of activities. Beyond is an organized team. Thank you for motivating the kids in sport amd health. Great job.

- Parent

“My kids had the best time. It feels so good to know, as a parent that despite the summer just starting, my kids already have memorable experiences to tell their friends and families." - Parent

June 26th's all-day Volleybond event kicked off summer the right way, with play and community partnerships benefiting hundreds of kids and families. It began with a park cleanup, followed by family-friendly volleyball games led by our awesome youth hires and fearless leader #BeyondVolley Director, Leti Valdez! In true #beyond fashion, it included lots of fun activities, like games with the world’s biggest volleyball, a visit from the Lawrence Fire Department that got the face painting activities underway, delicious donated snacks, a slip n' slide to keep the little ones busy and cool, and our first of 4 summertime visits by Kona’s Icee Truck. Awards were also given out, recognizing extraordinary people, past and present, who have contributed to and inspired our work, like Mami Raiza's "MVP, " "Humble Beast," and "For the #Love of the Game! #Volleybond is becoming a summer kickoff tradition. Hey, maybe next year, we have #SoccerBond too! READ more about Volleybond!


We want to introduce you to Jaithian, or “Jai,” who has been part of Beyond Volley for 7 months before becoming a Summer #CoachMentor in June. Jai stepped up quickly, on courts, prepping for programs in the office, and assisting Operations Manager with tax prep organization. He does everything with a can-do attitude, and that attitude is vital for young people to see and mimic–on the courts. Here’s a little more about Jai!

“I was born and raised in Lawrence and currently attend Central Catholic High School. This fall, I will be an upcoming Junior. I have an older sister, who also went to Central Catholic, and 2 younger brothers. I played soccer and basketball when I was younger, and I recently started playing volleyball, & love the game.”

A bit more about Jai's interest in working with youth “I’ve always had younger siblings and cousins, so I was always around younger kids. Patience is key to understanding them. I’ve always played sports with them, too, so sometimes I got to help teach them while having fun and watching over them.”

Favorite quote: “If they don't say that I worked hard for this, trust me, they lied." ~ Jospeh Allen

Fun Fact: Besides volleyball, Jai likes to draw and color.

What do you like most about working with youth? "I like building connections with younger kids because I want them to have someone to look up to. I want them to be more comfortable, which will allow them to want to do more. Working with them will also give me a chance to get them started young on a positive path. They can grow their love for the sport and continue showing up ready to practice and be there for their teammates.”

(Pics of Jai as a Central volleyball player & leading youth this summer)

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“Every summer has its unique, important story,” thanks to our unbelievably supportive friends at the Essex County Community Foundation through its Greater Lawrence Summer Fund. For over a decade, ECCF has supported our work in keeping kids engaged in productive, healthy activities during their out-of-school time. ECCF funded our first Sport & Wellness Camp at Greater Lawrence Technical School in 2010, which was also the start of our commitment to hiring older program youth as camp counselors. That focus continues today thanks to ECCF, which is “powering summer opportunities” for youth and families in greater Lawrence. We remain grateful and motivated.

The Highland Street Foundation ("HSF") selected Beyond Soccer & Volley for its Community Impact Consulting Summer/Fall Cohort

What does that mean? HSF provides nonprofits with a professional consultant for a six-month period to help them address a specific need within their organization. The consultants are chosen for their extensive and proven management and nonprofit experience in their respective functional areas. Right now, a strategist planning process is underway with Carolyn. Read More!

It's Official! Lupoli Field @ the Pavilion will be a new home for Lawrence Youth Soccer! 

Lawrence Youth Soccer will be playing on this state-of-the-art turf field that’s getting final touches over the next few weeks thanks to Lupoli Companies’ forward-thinking, transformative project along the Merrimack River. There won’t be parking issues, as it sits on a 1,200-car garage. Plus, it has soon-to-be function space, which Beyond Soccer & Volley staff can see from our 3rd-floor windows at 280 Merrimack Street in the growing Pavilion Complex will only enhance community connections. As most know, fields in Lawrence are hard to come by, and Beyond Soccer has struggled for 10+ years to access playable fields to help it grow and provide consistent SBYD programs. Although other playing locations to support our many teams are still needed, our Grade 8’s and Grade 6 Travel teams will be hosting Essex County Youth Soccer League games at the Pavillion Field this fall. As stated on its website, this project and the Lupoli Companies are “fielding change!” We can hardly wait! 

Website Link for more about the project!

Beyond Volley Director, Leti Valdez will continue her leadership role at Lawrence High School, contributing to the #Lancer Volleyball program this fall.

Leti will lead the freshman team this year, a new position she is looking forward to after assisting the varsity team for the last 5 years with Head Coach, Marino Valdez. They’ve had a lot of great success in the Merrimack Valley Conference!

A mutual benefit is that so many #LHS players are #BeyondVolley players, including at least a half dozen Youth Hires, who have been playing (and instructing) with us all summer long, as well as many rising freshmen who will be trying out for the first time this August, like a group of girls from the Parthum Middle School (many pictured above). Leti contributes through the LPS Intramurals, and again, it's all tied into our effort to grow the game in the schools so more kids want to play outside of school. Here’s to another great season and another #teameffort approach to sports!

Speaking of Team Efforts, Beyond Soccer & Volley, together with 13 Lawrence sports groups, especially key LSA Member, Everyone’s A Player, are pushing and promoting a more collaborative approach to improving city sport and health inequities. For example, see pics of LSA's 3-day Lawrence Sports Leadership Academy and read more about LSA’s partnership with the Red Sox Foundation to bring its signature RBI program to Lawrence. It’s ensuring low-cost baseball & softball and increasing participation after a 10-yr decline, only worsened by Covid.

LSA is committed to LSLA and the RBI program, plus advancing SBYD coach training, facility development efforts, data-driven SBYD advocacy and funding, shared measurement & evaluation strategies, and different resource-sharing approaches. 

See website for more about "building a movement through youth sports.”

Thanks for being part of our #teameffort.

A #Shoutout to the following funders!

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Volunteer or Donate TODAY!

Sincerely, Stephanie McArdle, Executive Director, 

the Beyond Soccer & Volley Board of Directors and Staff