“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think it’s safe to say everybody learns this wellknown phrase at some point in their childhood or young adult life. However, I think very few truly follow it. As human beings it’s easy to follow the crowd. Even when we desire change, large scale or small, it’s a lot easier said than done to be the initiator of it. Over the last decade or so however, I’ve been lucky enough to be in the presence of an organization who leads by example, UKSD. They embody what it means to “be the change”, every day through the work they do not only in their own community but around the world. I knew from the start, that this group was something I wanted to be a part of. Whether it was coaching locally, or traveling on mission trips, I think the biggest take away I’ve learned so far, is that simple acts of kindness go a long way. I think my favorite memory thus far came from one of my mission trips to Dominica. One day on the way back from building a bus station, we pulled over to the side of the road, where two young boys were standing. Doc, the founder of UKSD, gets out of the car and hands one of our spare donated balls to them. I have never seen a smile so big on a kids face. That moment truly changed my perspective on life and made me so incredibly appreciative for the life I live, and the blessings I have. I have never been so proud to be a part of anything more than UKSD. So much so, that now as a college student, I’m lucky enough to start “walking my talk” with my own branch down here in Tampa, Fl. I hope to make as big of an impact on the community of Tampa, as UKSD did for me when I was younger.
Vanessa Begley - Dennis Yarmouth High School
The community service work that I did with UKSD throughout my high school career inspired me to want to continue service projects after I graduated. The opportunities I found while being a part of the UKSD community allowed me to travel to the Middle East, and experience cultures I couldn't have imagined. The service work I've done has shaped my university studies and career trajectory, and UKSD has been a part of shaping my path.
Jamie Spence - Barnstable High School
Becoming involved with UKSD has been a great way to reach out and connect with people of all ages. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of many fundraisers, international trips, and locally run events. It's given me the chance to become active within my community, all while sharing a passion for soccer. Being able to kick a ball around with someone new is an excellent way to build a connection, which is something that UKSD embodies. Soccer has always been an important part of my life, and taking part in UKSD events has helped reenforce that. Growing up, I played through the ranks of club soccer in MA, and currently play club at the college level. During high school I took part in UKSD’s local fundraising tournament in an effort to assist food pantries around Cape Cod. Players could enter the tournament by donating grocery bags of food, in addition to small cash contributions. Teams were able to play for hours, and at the end of the night all proceeds were donated to local food banks. I've also been a part of the UKSD social change group in Dominica. This trip was a highlight of mine for a number of reasons, but mostly due to the perspective I gained from interacting with the people we met. Organizing clinics, building relationships, and something as simple as playing soccer on the beach had an immense impact on us and the community we were in.
Max Spence - Barnstable High School
I had the opportunity to become involved in a program that completely changed the way I saw the world, but also changed the way I played the game of soccer that consumed what seemed to be my entire life. It made me realize it is more than possible to work for the greater good of the community while doing something you absolutely love. Never did I think kicking a ball with my feet would open up the door to volunteering at clinics to teach mentally and physically disabled people of all ages to learn to love the same thing all of us involved in the program did. Never did I think I would get the opportunity to travel abroad and experience a taste of the way of life across the pond, or practice on a field surrounded by picture-perfect views. Even though I had to race from working all day to beach soccer on Monday nights during the summer, it was worth all the sand in my socks to see how many kids came every week and genuinely enjoyed playing soccer in a different setting other than a grass or turf field. As an individual player, I gained the confidence to play, which ultimately translated into me receiving awards as a high school player from sophomore to senior year, and led me to make the decision to play in college. I am currently a freshman at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and this past season I was a player on a team that won the CCC Conference, made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in history – made it past the first round, and broke records. I can’t imagine life without soccer, and UKSD made it possible to involve soccer in more than just the one aspect of my life out on the field.
Shannon McGovern - Mashpee High School
People ask me what I do for a living. My elevator talk is simple: "I help create the next best generation our state has ever seen through the game of soccer." Massachusetts is fortunate to have so many caring organizations within our borders who know they can help effect social change through sports and more specifically soccer. UKSD is one such organization. UKSD has proven to be able to deliver an array of programming helping children both on Cape Cod and abroad to not only learn and better their soccer skills, but at the same time learn and improve their life-skills. UKSD is a beacon of light on the Cape that shines here and across the ocean.
Michael Borislow - Massachusetts Youth Soccer
The Town of Barnstable has been fortunate to collaborate and work with the UKSD Program on many levels. The programs are now a year round program, offering soccer skills, but the overall program is so much more. It focuses on the whole person, and done in such fun interactive instruction, that kids are smiling and having fun the entire time they are playing. The life skills taught take our youth to another level, as they grow through this program. Not just the soccer skills; to understand what is happening in everyday life and the importance of fitness and being part of the community. The grass soccer (futbol) is known around the world, but to play street soccer, futsal, or beach soccer brings the sport to the next level. For those who stay with the program; have opportunities that can take our youth around the globe to help share the program, helps our youth give back in a way they may not realize is available to them. The experience given by Doc and Fligg are heart driven and change those who stick with it, with top skills, but life skills as well.
Patti Machado - Barnstable Recreation Department Director