Saturday, February 24, 2007

LA, Jessica, and The swinging tool belt

Nine monthes ago we made a conscious effort to engage the "hard to reach" young people we were seeing more of around the soup kitchen. Pop, C-White, Craig, Amil, Chukie, among others were part of this first group that joined the team. LA, pictured here, was one of those who decided not to join the team. We finally did pull him in and he scored in his first game in the beginning of our season last fall. But some decisions he had made prior to joining the team caught up with him. So he "went missing" for a short while.

Last week LA came back to us. As coach Rob put it, "LA has the movements of a true athlete." New to the game, LA's footskills are far behind his heart, but the way he anticipates and launches his 6'1'' frame in motion announce his potential to anyone paying the least bit of attention. Last fall LA saw only 5 minutes of action but he anticipated a cross ad was in the right place to volley a bouncing ball into the roof of the net. Seeing him work up and down the gym in practice and watching him punch the wall after a near miss on goal in Wednesday's game was so suprising to me. LA had always given the impression of being aloof, overly chill about everything, but here was a young man with passion and will. We are working with him on channeling his energy into the game and not into wall, but it's just great to see that energy flowing. He earned a start and did a tremendous job in the match on Wednesday.

The match turned out well. With our goalie Brian now working on a construction job in Florida (the company returns in a couple weeks) and Zenas Fewell on the disabled list so to speak, we were again without a proper goalie. Tony Kelley, who began working his dream job at Carowinds Theme Park last week, stepped up to play in net. Although Tony's instincts were good, he made three errors clearing the ball after leaving his area. Two resulted directly in goals and the other effectively led to a third goal. This was frustrating as the team saw a first half lead and the promise of victory slip away.

The McGregor brothers again added a goal each. Our game was early (6:15pm) this week and so we picked up Michael from the job site. He came jogging towards my truck near the WYMCA on Park Road. His big smile coupled with his white hard-hat bobbing and tool belt swinging was definitely the image of the week. The young man showed great stamina in scoring his goal when after the referee failed to call an obvious penalty as we were taken down from behind going in one on one with the goalie. Michael kept his focus and put the follow-up in the net. Rob took Michael to take his GED evaluation test. Michael still has some work to do, particuarly with the english, spanish being his native language, but will certainly not be deterred. Dave for his part has improved his passing game and shows great dedication biking to the UMC for the game after school all the way from the Eastway and Shamrock area. I was going to offer him a ride back with his brother, but after the game he hopped on his bike and pedalled on. Dave feels picked on in school and some trouble over fighting at school this winter. So his goal for the spring is to walk away from all his fight and to focus and school and "futbol."

We also need to single out C-White for tremendous effort and improved attitude in the match. C-White walked out of practice on Tuesday and we wondered what was going on. Turned out he was suppose to meet someone about a job interview and had forgotten. He lost his starting spot, but his hustle earned him lots of minutes. He said after the match, "I wonder if I am bi-polar or something, i just feel so good and active right now." I am not sure if he was serious, but it is true that after two months of being distant and reserved, he has come out of his shell again. Whether it is a disorder or not, or just a 19 year trying to understand a difficult world and his place in it, we shall see. C-White only has one more section left on his GED, so his goal is to finish it by the end of the upcoming season.

We also had a fantastic suprise this week: Jessica Woody with whom I founded the program came back for a visit, picking up pizzas for the team. Several of the old-timers were able to comeback and see Jessica such as Teresa Ledford, Andre Wannamaker, as well as the omnipresent Tony Kelley. We got to see Jessica whack a couple of hard shots in familiar fashion and also met her new husband. Congratulations, Jessica!

We now go into an brief off-season. The Team has already met to commit to a tougher physical training regimen as we have physical fitness to be the area which as a team we can improve on the most the fastest.

Thanks for reading,

Street Soccer 945

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What do I do with all these players?--says coach Rob below

Several players didn't show up to the game tonight. Good thing, because we already had more players than uniforms. On tuesday we had 19 people at practice. Last night we had Daniel and Elmer from Honduras, Joshua an 18 young man from outside Charlotte, Dave and Michael McGregor, Pop, Trill Gates, Zenas Fewell, Michael "Breeze" Simpson, Vicky, Ray, Angelique, Bobby, Rob, Lawrence, Chris, C. White, Amil, Tony Kelly, and Andrey Wannamaker. Clearly many more people that could get in the game. I think that is 19 which include 4 people who showed up at the game replacing three that were at the practice yesterday but not at the game. And we still have others we consider team members!

We played the undefeated "Firing Squad" and the compliments after the match were some consolation to our 3-7 defeat. "You guys are the best competition we have had all season. Great effort." That says a lot for our squad which successully blends talent experience, and the lack of both to into a feeling of general cohesion. Our goals came from the Mcregor brothers--two to Dave who painted his adidas samba classics silver with spray paint to give them the flavor of Ronaldinho--Dave is a 17 year old student at West Charlotte.Dave,Michael are seen here in the CW945 office with their sister Yoland and their nephew Xavier.

With two penalties awared to the other team, a soft goal conceded at the end of the first half and two soft goals conceded when we were pressing the final minutes, we certainly felt we had the quality to have at least had a chance to win. Still, we lacked organization defensively if not urgency and flow offensively if not effort.

When we arrived back at the center, old buddy Matt Jules, a program alumnus, was there waiting to great us. He wanted to announce to us his new job with the city! He invited several players to his house for the night. "This is where I felt like I wasn't a loser when I was on the bottom, and now that I am doing well I wanted to share it with you guys" were Matt's words.

Impact Report 06

This has been on our site for a while, but please view it here on the blogssimpact06-1.pdf

Thursday, February 1, 2007

New Sponsor: Brixx Pizza!

We are proud to announce that Brixx Pizza is the newest member of the Street Soccer 945 team! Rob Wood, the director of marketing and manager of the Uptown Brixx location, is providing Street Soccer 945 with all new uniforms and with Brixx pizza and pasta every Wednesday night for our games. With the news it brings great excitement and an added responsibility to represent our new sponsor with pride. Brixx is proud of their reputation in the Charlotte community as is Street Soccer 945 and we intend to represent them well with our spirit, hard work, and sportmanship. The Brixx team will be coming to the Urban Ministry Center in March to host a dinner to present the new jerseys displaying the Brixx and Street Soccer 945 logo together and to talk to the players about the sponsorship and to give their support. Many thanks to everyone involved with Brixx to make this happen and we welcome them to our team.