Hello! Our names are Alexis and Phoebe Papavasiliou, and we are here to share our experience with UKSD! We started UKSD when we were 5 and 7 years old in a run down gym in Osterville, Massachusetts. There were about 4 other kids in the class, who are now very close friends. He introduced himself to us as “Doc”, and that is still what we call him to this day. We have not stopped participating in his clinics and community service projects since. Through this program, we have made many friends and valuable memories. We also met many young women, that we admire and look up to, including Megan Fligg and Maddie Brennan. They would run clinics, and we would hear about their inspiring trips to Dominica, Ohio, Jordan, Kibera, and Florida, hoping one day we too could be apart of such a journey. Now we are happy to say we have come full circle, and we are going on the next trip to Dominica in April.
There are rare moments in life when we get to stand, side by side, with someone who has been a fundamental component to our ability to achieve our dreams. This Fall, members of the Barnstable High School girl’s soccer team were given this opportunity.
The Cape Cod Cooperative Bank reached out to the high school team to ask if they would be interested in helping coach this year’s clinic offered by Kristine Lilly.
For those who don’t know, Lilly is a former professional soccer player and member of the Women’s National Team. She is a pioneer in the women’s game, as she helped to establish its legitimacy and power within the United States. Due to her incredible talent and unparalleled work ethic, she has set a foundation for girls to be able to pursue the dream of playing in a professional setting.
Love is a very complex emotion. According to science, love can be explained through the release of neurotransmitters in the body called dopamine and endorphins that emulate a “feel-good” response towards someone or something. However, love is much more complicated than that. It can be applied to a plethora of different things. Someone can love another person, an object, an idea, or any other arbitrary thing. In my opinion, love is the most powerful emotion, which means it can also do the most damage. For example, I loved soccer more than anything in the entire world.
Something we have learned through our journey here at UKSD is the importance of making partnerships. For the past few weeks, we have partnered with South Shore Select and Coaches Across Continents in order to enhance all of our abilities to reach kids through the game of soccer. South Shore Select is an all girls soccer club located in Hingham, MA. Although they focus much of their work on building talented young athletes who are both technically and tactically educated, they are very much aware of the importance of helping their players also build their sense of character, commitment, leadership potential, and global awareness. It is because of this that Select welcomed, with open arms, Coaches Across Continents hands- on-training.
Attitude, Commitment, Character.
When Doc first asked me to write this letter, I laughed at the irony that the night before I was racing to work with the words: “If you are not 5 minutes early you are late”, running through my mind. I find it amazing that after all this time his teachings have still stuck with me and become so crucial to life. Although many times one may struggle to even understand what Doc is saying, listen closely, for he has a wealth of knowledge he is willing to share that will help you through more than just a 90 minute soccer game.
Whenever we return from a service trip, we are often met with genuine inquiry about how it was, what the people we like, how the kids responded to us being there, or things of this nature. We have been extremely fortunate to always be able to respond with how wonderful everything has been, but it can be very hard to put it all into words. Something that many don’t realize regarding service work is the extreme emotional impact it can have on the volunteers. While traveling, we fill every waking minute with projects and activities. Your mind rarely has time to pause and let everything sink in. It really isn’t until we return and take some time to debrief that we are able to grapple with all that we saw and felt. On our recent trip to Kenya, this was no exception. Each day carried its own weight of attempting to understand and fully comprehend the struggles of the people and communities we worked with and the gnawing question of- how can we help?
Beginning at about the age of 8, I began to attend UKSD street soccer programs that were held in a small gym, with only a few people that would show up. I still continue to participate in the free of charge programs like street soccer, futsal, and beach soccer to this day. These programs have evolved from a small gym setting to huge crowds around a basketball court on a Tuesday night. These programs began to include lessons such as personal care, environmental care, and awareness about substance abuse. They were not only a place to play soccer and learn about important life lessons, but they are also a place that allowed me to create so many new friendships and relax and enjoy the game.
There are some individuals who become aware, at a young age, of what it is that they wish to do with their lives. Although some people will inevitably change their minds as they get older or find a new path, others continue, steadfast, directly towards their original goal. For me, the latter rings true. Teaching was something I not only was interested in, but it was something which I could feel was going to be a calling in my life. Much of this is as a result of powerful and passionate educators who lead me to believe that great change could come as a result of teaching. I am lucky to say that I have not only been able to work at an incredible high school, but I also have the privilege of coaching here. It is due to these two roles which I play that I am able to connect with and form relationships with such a diverse group of students. I am able to work academically and athletically with youth from different ethnicities, cultures, genders, religions, socio-economic classes, etc. Although it is my job, in essence, to be the person teaching them, I can claim with undeniable conviction that they are more often than not teaching me.
A soccer ball is far more than material stitched together; it’s more than a toy or piece of equipment. A soccer ball is a tool which has the power to create change, form bonds, and it speaks a language all on its own. It is because of this that we have created the Sphere of Change Soccer Ball. This ball simultaneously functions as a donation for the children and teens we serve, but it also gives credit to the many amazing sponsors who have helped us along the way. Each year, various organizations, local businesses, and individual sponsors make a donation to our UKSD KizPlay4FreeProject.
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