Queens College's Slavin Represents ECC in Partnership with Up2Us Coach Across America
This past year, Andrea Slavin, a member of the Women's Soccer
team at Queens College, was chosen as the first student-athlete to
represent the East Coast Conference in their partnership with Up2Us
Coach Across America.
The Up2Us Coach Across America program is a nationwide initiative supporting a workforce of coaches who focus on positive youth development through sports. The coaches serve kids through a wide range of traditional and non-traditional sports, inspiring academic success, healthy lifestyles and self-esteem among boys and girls and showing young people that sports can be a turning point in their lives, physically and emotionally.
This summer, Andrea will be working with young people through America SCORES New York, a nonprofit organization that strives to empower students in urban communities using soccer, writing, creative expression, and service-learnin
The position with America SCORES is partially funded through grant money the ECC receives from the NCAA Conference Grant program and is aimed at assisting student-athletes with personal and career development opportunities.
Below is a blog written by Andrea about her experience with America SCORES.
Blog No. 1
by: Andrea Slavin
The past few weeks, I have been working with a program called
America SCORES NY, through the nation-wide program, Coach Across
America. Normally, America SCORES works with two schools in West
Harlem throughout an entire school year. They are an after school
program that focuses on sports based youth development and writing
as a means of bringing something positive to the lives of children
in urban areas. The soccer aspect of the program increases
the children’s’ aerobic capacity and physical fitness
level. In addition, the students also benefit from lessons in
sportsmanship, discipline, problem solving, and teamwork. The
writing aspect of the program helps the children develop creative
thinking, literacy and speaking skills. It also provides an outlet
for the students to voice personal issues and develop
“America SCORES empowers students in urban communities using soccer, writing, creative expression, and service-learning. With teamwork as the unifying value, we inspire youth to lead healthy lifestyles, be engaged students, and become agents of change in their communities.” (www.americascores.org)
My job this summer differs from that of someone working all year round. This summer, I am only coaching soccer. My days consist of traveling from Long Island to midtown and then from midtown I travel uptown to P.S. 161 in West Harlem. From there, I stay and coach two sessions of soccer to two different groups of children. One group is directly affiliated with America SCORES and consists of the children that were in the program during the year. These children are 3rd through 5th grade. The other group of children is from a summer camp called Aspira. These children are from 1st through 5th grade.
All week, except Thursdays, I work with another Coach, Rose. She is an absolute sweetheart! As if the program itself wasn’t rewarding enough, working with Coach Rose makes it even better! She has such a passion for working with youth combined with a love for soccer. Both of these qualities shine through with her coaching. Occasionally, I also work with Rob. He is another coach that now works for America SCORES. He is a very devoted coach, doing work on and off the field. You can tell he loves doing what he’s doing because he never makes it appear as if it’s his job. It seems to be his way of life. For the past 6 months, Rob and Rose were working on their main fundraising event called the America SCORES Cup. It took place at Pier 40 in NYC. This tournament hosted corporate teams, who also happened to be some non-profit organizations. America SCORES raised about $74,000 from this tournament alone. This is a remarkable number and will allow for more children to be a part of America SCORES New York during the school year.
Working with these children is an absolute pleasure. I love teaching them soccer and I love being a role model for them. From the first day, these kids had my heart. Every time I see them, I’m greeted with, what seems like, a million hugs! I can see their improvements with the soccer ball, but most importantly, I can see their personalities take a slight turn for the better.
I’ll share a quick story. I have a first grader in Aspira camp, Juan. The first few weeks were tough with him. He had behavior issues that I could see would be a problem with the rest of the students. He was violent, said mean things, had poor sportsmanship, and didn’t recognize that his own poor behavior was hurtful to others. So, every day I saw him, I would make sure to discipline. The first few days consisted a lot of fixing his poor behavior. Then, as I saw him progressing, I started to praise his good behavior. Every day he showed up, I saw a noticeable change in his personality. This past week was his best week, by far! He would come up to me and tell me the great things he was doing, just in case I missed it. And at the end of every session, I brought him to the side and would say, “Juan, you did SO well today! I’m so proud of you!” He would leave the field smiling from ear to ear! Well, on Friday, he came up to me at the end of the practice and told me it was his last day. I became so sad. I sat him down and I told him every detail of his progress. I told him how his skills improved, how he was nicer to others, how his behavior was becoming close to perfect and also how he seemed to be much happier. After saying all this I gave him a hug. He looked at me and said, “Coach Dre, I’m going to be nicer to people because of you.” In that moment, I wanted to cry! I gave him another hug and watched him leave. After that, on the walk to the subway, all I kept thinking was, “he is the reason I do what I do. And he is the reason I love doing what I do.”
I wouldn’t be where I am today without a lot of help from others around me. If people didn’t go out of their way for me, who knows what I would be doing with my life! However, I was lucky enough to have great role models growing up to keep me focused and keep me headed in the right direction. Now, I am lucky enough to be that someone, a role model, for as many kids as I can. I plan to give back. I plan to make a difference.