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

No comments: