The following content was originally distributed through IMPACT Silver Spring's August e-newsletter.
Message from the IMPACT Sports Director
Coach Ron Samuels began coaching basketball three years ago when his son entered the 5th grade. As a dad with some athletic experience, he sought to provide guidance and make a difference in the lives of his son and his son’s friends. With each passing season, Ron’s team has experienced a range of highs and lows, from championships to last place finishes. Just over a year ago, we hired Coach Ron to run basketball clinics for us. We charged from $0-$5 per session, providing an alternative to the $15-$50 per session charged by most other programs in the area. Over the past year, we have expanded our programs to go beyond the playing field. Coach Ron started to instill discipline around academics through pep talks and requiring a GPA of 2.0 for the kids to play. In the course of a couple of seasons, no player is under a 3.0. Coach Ron began coaching to give his kids an opportunity to play and has since evolved into a mentor, pushing his kids to grow well beyond the court.
Similarly, IMPACT Sports initially began with the intention to get kids playing in Long Branch, and now in Wheaton and East County. Our program has grown in capacity and quality as we have learned from our mistakes, and evolved with each set of youth we have the privilege to encounter. Our youth are affected by the opportunity gap, which exists in sports just as it does in academics. And the opportunity gap is more than simply the ability to pay and the ability to travel. Many of our kids and families face an array of societal disadvantages—limited English language skills, lack of cultural knowledge around youth sports, and long work hours. These disadvantages have excluded many of the kids we work with from participating in other programs. Our primary mission is to bridge the gap between a child’s desire to play and the ability they have to do so. In doing so, we seek to give the child a chance to grow beyond the field of play.
We want Coach Ron’s team to continue to grow in tandem with the rest of our players. We have learned that we must invest in coaches and more intense volunteer training if we want to see more than just supervised recess on our fields. We have begun to invest in providing not only recreational entry-level opportunities but also an increasing number of clinics and league play opportunities. But we need your help. The growth and transformation we see in our children on the field can translate to growth and transformation off the field (in all areas of their lives) with the right coach. Help us reach the kids who are not being given a fair shot to realize their full potential on the field, on the court, and in the classroom. We need committed sponsors: sponsor a team, sponsor a practice, sponsor a clinic, or sponsor a league. Help us obtain or purchase the equipment we need. We need reliable coaches, reliable mentors, and reliable administrative volunteers.
Come see us in action, get to know us, and see how you can have an IMPACT!
IMPACT Sports Fall Season Sneak Peek- Volunteers Wanted!
This fall, we will continue to bring affordable and accessible options to the kids we serve. Here’s a sneak peek of what our season has to offer:
- Wheaton SoccerFest- a 4v4 tournament for ages K-9 that kicks off our fall season on Labor Day weekend.
- Wheaton Soccer League- modeled on the Takoma Soccer League, we are giving the kids in Wheaton an opportunity for recreational play. We are fielding several competitive teams as well as our first ever girls team.
- Soccer programs in Long Branch, East County, and Wheaton- taking place at various Title 1 schools, we offer a set curriculum with the philosophy that all kids should have access to sports.
- Basketball program- begins in October to prepare for the coming winter season.
- Additional sports- Depending on resources, we may run one additional sports opportunity, such as Flag Football or Ultimate Frisbee.
IMPACT Sports Fall Season Sneak Peek- Volunteers Wanted!
It’s not every day that a professional soccer player visits your child’s soccer practice, but that is exactly what happened for IMPACT Sports families on July 20th. Patrick Nyarko, a midfielder for Washington’s professional soccer team, DC United, was on the field at Glenallan Elementary School in Wheaton for Wednesday’s afternoon soccer practice. Patrick was there to share coaching tips, sign autographs, and create a ton of excitement for the more than 90 children--kindergarteners through middle schoolers--at the field.
Nyarko’s presence at practice was thanks to “Let Them Play” a program of DC United and the non-profit organization Leveling the Playing Field. The program works to ensure that all children have the pleasures of athletic involvement by providing them with both the equipment and inspiration needed to play organized sports. Nyarko’s appearance did not disappoint. Not only did he and members of the “Let Them Play” staff bring an abundance of soccer equipment to donate, but he also regaled kids with stories about DC United’s four MLS championships and his own journey to DC United from his home country of Ghana.
Many reading this may be aware of the recent news stories about the increasingly high cost and inaccessibility of organized youth sports, in particular soccer, in the US. Thanks to volunteers and support from individual and corporate donors as well as the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, IMPACT Sports has been able to offer affordable and accessible youth sports programming to families-in-need for more than 5 years. The benefits to children of participating in high quality organized sports are well documented. Additionally, at IMPACT, we also believe that youth sports can serve as an important doorway for entire families into IMPACT’s larger network of purposeful relationships.
On the field at Glenallan, parent Lucero Barragan stood by watching as her excited 10-year-old son Kevin met Nayarko. Lucero commented, “This program is great for kids. There are not a lot of organized sports in this community and this league is fun and affordable.” Kevin breathlessly shared that Nyarko is the first professional soccer player he’s met. He added, “Meeting him makes me want to play even more.” That’s the idea!
IMPACT Sports Equipment Wishlist
Consider making an in-kind gift to IMPACT Sports in order to help provide low-cost, quality sports programming to children in your community! Below is a list of the equipment that is currently needed to carry out our programs.