- Ms. Lisa Findley, First Grade Teacher, Harrisburg, PA
I have a confession… I don’t always love theme weeks in school. As a first grade teacher, theme weeks mean taking at least 15 minutes each day to clearly explain the theme for the following day. That includes multiple (and repetitive) questions about the theme and giving or showing several examples of the theme. Secondly, each day is a new whirlwind of costumes, props and activities, of which you can imagine are totally not distracting to the learning process. Lastly, our “normal” routine might as well be thrown out the door. But however crazy these weeks may seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel when I see my students enjoying these literacy activities.
As you may or may not know, March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Getting kids to enjoy reading was something that Dr. Seuss was passionate about. His philosophy and his books are why America’s teachers and the National Education Association selected Dr. Seuss’ birthday as the day to celebrate Read Across America. This past week in my classroom, we participated in several Read Across America activities including: Wearing t-shirts with messages, wearing mismatched/inside-out clothes, dressing like a book character, swapping books, and discussing our favorite books. As mentioned previously, these weeks are quite chaotic in a first grade classroom, but if it means that my students are focusing their attention to reading, then I am all for it!
Getting first graders to read has been one of the most challenging tasks in my life thus far. These fresh, young faces come to me in September and are so open and excited to read! With expectations of learning to read on the very first day of school (literally — that’s what they thought they’d learn first!), my students were sadly disappointed. Since then, reading is a constant struggle for many of them. I think we all, including myself sometimes, forget how difficult this task really is. So as this fun and silly week has come and passed, I noticed that many of my kiddos that really struggle with reading were having fun participating in the Read Across America activities. Each morning our school began with a student reading a Dr. Seuss quote to an unknown book on the morning announcements. My students excitedly screamed out the answer, thus beginning our wacky week. Throughout each day I chose to focus a little bit of our time reviewing the theme for the day and discussing how it relates to Read Across America. We took some time each day to “Stop, drop, and read!” and most importantly we talked about why it’s necessary to learn to read. Some of my kiddos want to be doctors, others want to be athletes, and not to toot my own horn, but others want to be teachers! Each occupation requires reading in some way, shape or form. But the one thing that I wanted students to understand this week was that reading should be fun! I always try to make reading fun, interesting or a learning experience.
This week may have been hectic for me, but if you ask my kids, they may respond with a different answer.
Food and I have a love-hate relationship right now. I’m a full on “foodie” in many ways — I love eating out, discovering new places and recipes, etc. But at the same time, I have seen the ugly consequences of food not meshing well with our bodies. This past August, I ended up in the ER, shaking uncontrollably and experiencing a “seizure-like episode” — a result almost certainly related to some allergies I had to food. This wasn’t all – my son, age 4, has recently been diagnosed with ADHD NOS, and a huge number of articles have come up on children with ADHD and how the symptoms are aggravated by certain foods.
All of the sudden, my love for food has been challenged to great lengths. My son now has a low, if any at all, gluten diet and absolutely no refined or processed sugar. I realized that having cooked tomatoes (fresh tomatoes are fine) and almonds of any sort are really hard on my body, so we have a lot of things we need to watch for as a family now.
I know that I join a long list of families with allergies and kids who probably are negatively affected by processed foods without knowing it. Nonetheless, as my child has birthday parties and holiday parties in his classroom, I can’t help but feel I need to make sure he still has a great time at these events without compromising his health. I believe as a Soccer Shots Director/Owner/Coach and as a mother, we need to not only advocate healthy living with an active life style of soccer, but also with the foods that we eat or offer, as well.
In this journey, I have found some healthier, guilt-free recipes that really are delicious, so I thought I would share them!
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the almond flour, 1 cup shredded coconut, coconut flour, and sea salt until finely ground. Add the honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Process until a rough dough forms.
Form the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in shredded coconut if desired.
For a no-bake treat, simply refrigerate until firm and enjoy!
For a more traditional meltaway cookie texture, place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 250ºF for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It’s truly amazing what you can realize as an adult.
When Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, I thought of his contributions to South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement, and his status as a world symbol for peace and unity.
But over the weekend, while browsing social media posts about the former leader, I was reminded of something that I had heard and was vaguely aware of: his love of sport. Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”
I was so moved by that quote. It’s so true at Soccer Shots. Small children from disparate backgrounds are all one and the same on our ‘Soccer Island’ while kicking a ball around and cheering each other on as they shoot a goal.
I thought it was important to share what was behind Mandela’s inspirational words. It can be a great opportunity for a discussion with your kids on many topics, from acceptance to forgiveness.
South Africa was racially segregated, as many know. That segregation extended even into the sporting world. In 1995, Mandela joined a crowd comprised of predominantly white South Africans at the Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks, the South African team, was playing. They won, and Mandela presented the white captain with the trophy. This was captured in the 2009 film, Invictus.
It started a movement, and the Springboks’ success galvanized the entire nation. By reaching out with an olive branch, Mandela united his country around the sport. The jerseys, once-hated because they were seen as whites-only apparel, became ubiquitous on whites and blacks alike.
Captain Francois Pienaar said of that moment when Mandela handed him the trophy, “We didn’t have the support of 63,000 South Africans today. We had the support of 42 million.”
We’re always amazed at the power of sport (especially soccer) because it puts all countries on a worldwide stage, like the upcoming World Cup — but it’s incredible to think that a leader as influential as Nelson Mandela saw sports the same way. He not only realized this, but actually made use of this to bring about change!
- Annie Ferret, Director of Marketing and Communications, Soccer Shots Franchising
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. With parties to attend, gifts to wrap and traditions to carry on, the season can get away from us before we have time to take a breath and really savor what this time of year is truly about. No matter your belief about the reason for the season, there is one common thread: ‘tis the season to care for one another. This is the season when we share gifts with friends and family to show them how much we care; when we lend our spare change to those ringing bells outside the mall or market; when we extend the father of three little ones some extra grace as he totes his squirmy ones through the store. This is the season we see the best in others, and share the best in us.
We haven’t escaped the hustle and bustle at the Soccer Shots headquarters in Pennsylvania. We’re hard at work making plans for the coming year with curriculum updates, marketing calendars and process refinements. But a few times each week, our team pauses to do a bit of “Santa’s Workshop” work in our warehouse – packaging Soccer Shots soccer balls and mailing them to Soccer Shots children around the country. This is the result of our annual fundraising event for our non-profit, Global Goals. We give Soccer Shots parents and guardians a chance to give a Soccer Shots soccer ball to a child as a holiday gift with a $20 donation to Global Goals, which directly impacts our partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success programs.
That $20 donation makes it possible for children living in underserved areas across the country to be a part of after-school soccer programs (Soccer for Success) making a positive impact in their lives. These programs are an extension of our Soccer Shots mission and our entire community feels privileged to be a part of this extra impact.
With each packaged soccer ball, we are reminded of the reason for the season, to care for one another: a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or relative, a stranger, a child in a nearby city, our community, and those in far away places. Our team pauses, savors the season, and is grateful for the impact our Soccer Shots parents and guardians are generously making with these donations. Each mailed soccer ball represents another child with a safe place to play. What an incredible impact we get to be a part of each year!
At Soccer Shots, we are grateful to be a part of more than 80,000 families this year to serve more than 100,000 children through our programs nationwide. This season, we pause to recognize this privilege and thank those who make our impact possible. From our families to yours, happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you all next year!
A word from Soccer Shots Director Zak Kraehmer, Soccer Shots Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks, PA
Soccer Shots Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks hosted a fundraising event for Global Goals on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Red Rose Arena, located in Lancaster. The event ran from 9 am to 11 am, and we ran Soccer Shots sessions every half hour.
I was really excited for this event because we were advertising and telling everyone we could about the event for several months. It was exciting to have such a great theme and a great cause for the event. Recognizing that U.S. Soccer is celebrating 100 years really piqued the interest of many families about U.S. Soccer and the game of soccer itself. This theme allowed us to transition into sharing more about Global Goals and what the mission of Global Goals is. Parents were supportive of giving toward the cause and supportive of Soccer Shots as a whole.
The sessions at our event all ran smoothly and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our coaches dedicated their Saturday mornings to making sure that the parents and children experienced great sessions. The smiles on each child’s face was priceless when they saw that they would receive a Soccer Shots balloon and an extremely tasty cupcake.
This is a firsthand quote from a parent of a seasoned Soccer Shots participant after attending the event:
“We attended the Global Goals fundraiser over the past weekend. For our 4-year-old, there was no question if she wanted to go; she told us she was going before we even asked! For her, Soccer Shots is more than just something to do at school or on the weekend — it’s a special activity for her. This weekend was a fun additional session for Rachel, in addition to what she has at school. This weekend added to the knowledge of the game of soccer, but more so to the continued education on teamwork, sharing, respect for others and respect for self. It’s neat to hear the coaches teaching the rules of the game and the rules for Soccer Shots are goals for life, not only for the actual game of soccer. For my husband and myself, it was a great morning of seeing our 4-year-old sharing and taking turns with her friends, as well as other kids she didn’t know, learning to listen to her coaches and most importantly, having fun! It was a great weekend also of celebrating 100 years of U.S. Soccer! If you haven’t had a chance to watch your child play at Soccer Shots, we highly advise you to go to a weekend session like this one. Your child will amaze you on what they learn about soccer and life!”
Global Goals was born out of a vision that the Soccer Shots franchise community could join together and provide opportunities for growth to disadvantaged children, through soccer, across the U.S. and around the world.
In 2011, we became a proud partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The Foundation’s programs are designed to keep kids active and healthy. They guide children away from negative influences by providing them with safe and healthy places to play after school – the most dangerous hours of the day. Through our partnership, we aim to raise funds and awareness for children who live in these underserved communities throughout the U.S. so that they have convenient and affordable access to quality soccer programs that support their physical and personal development.
During the fall seasons in 2011 and 2012, local Soccer Shots operators donated a portion of each child’s registration fee to Global Goals/U.S. Soccer Foundation to build SportCourt playing surfaces at the B.R.I.C.K. Avon Academy in Newark, NJ, and Madrid Middle School in El Monte, CA. Children at both schools are now able to participate in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program on those surfaces. This program not only teaches children soccer skills, it also provides a positive mentoring experience with coaches.
In 2013, Global Goals fundraising was redirected toward the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s annual Urban Soccer Symposium. The Symposium brings together coaches and leaders from across the country who are making an impact in their communities through the game of soccer. In many of these communities, a child’s involvement in a local soccer program is the only alternative away from gang violence and drug or alcohol abuse. When the U.S. Soccer Foundation first approached Soccer Shots about the need for Symposium fundraising, we knew right away this was a no-brainer decision and made the commitment to extend our reach in this direction.
Take a look at the video below from the 2013 Urban Soccer Symposium and stay tuned to find out more about how to help us send more leaders to the Symposium in 2014!
- Vassili Cremanzidis, Soccer Shots spring intern, Georgetown University
As a graduate student at Georgetown University in the Sports Industry Management program, I enrolled in an internship class during my third semester. When I met Camilo, a district manager at Soccer Shots, I knew that’s where I wanted to intern. After spending January through mid-May with him and many others at Soccer Shots, I knew I had made the right decision to be one of their first interns.
Soccer is a sport like no other, which can bring people of any language, nationality or culture together. On top of that, children can also play this wonderful game. At Soccer Shots, they have taken it up a notch by incorporating an educational component to their sessions, making them unique and customized for every level — not to mention an added dose of fun.
Soccer Shots’ organizational structure requires daily communication throughout every level of the organization. With that being said, I got to meet most of the people in the company and have had a chance to talk with quite a few of them. The enthusiasm, respect and friendliness of everyone at Soccer Shots is like nothing I have ever experienced before. They have an unparalleled dedication to creating a successful program that meets all their objectives and doing everything the right way. They have taught me that in order to be successful, you must stay true to yourself, your mission and your core values. A mix of hard work and passion will lead you to the top of anything you want to achieve in life.
At Soccer Shots, I got to experience every aspect of the business: marketing, sales, human resources, administrative work, managerial work, etc. By learning from the people at the top of their respective industry, I have enhanced my skills in every department that will surely help me during my future endeavors.
I’d like to thank everyone at Soccer Shots for a wonderful time, the friendships I have made and the experience I have received. I had a lot of fun during my five months and perhaps one day in the future I will have the chance to be a part of Soccer Shots once again.
The following is an email from a godmother of a child registered in Soccer Shots Philadelphia.
“I just wanted to take the time out to say that I really enjoyed the idea of ‘Bring a friend to Soccer Shots Day’ this past weekend. I have my godson every weekend and I was overjoyed to find a program such as Soccer Shots to serve as a structured activity as well as a fun sport. My godson has two older siblings to compete with for attention at home and sometimes struggles to listen, seeks attention, and lacks confidence within the family dynamic.
My godson really started connecting with Coach Laura last week and did even better this weekend because his older brothers joined him for the day to play soccer (for ‘Bring a Friend Day’). He was thrilled and although he is the youngest of his siblings, he took the lead, showing them how to ‘tick tock’ the ball and only use feet to kick the ball around. He was on his best behavior setting such an example that even his mother who attended was very impressed that some of this discipline and structured behavior was a result of participating in this great program each week. Along with his older brothers and mother, his grandmom and two great aunts from Florida were in attendance. This really gave him time to shine and show them all what he learned. I also believe it boosted his confidence for him to show his OLDER brothers the ‘ropes of soccer.’ We were all so proud!
Just wanted to say thanks for the great idea as well as everything this program has offered this far. I look forward to each week!!!!”
I am the father of three pretty amazing kids that are in very different stages of life.
My oldest is heading to middle school next year… OK, I’m back at the computer after falling off my chair. As hard as it is to imagine, it’s happening. All of the horrors (as a parent) that are about to happen to us, errrr — I mean her. The physical changes, the social challenges, the emotional ups and downs… it will be an interesting few years. That’s one way to approach it.
OR, we can choose to look at it as an amazing opportunity for her to learn more about herself, meet new people, try new things that she hasn’t been exposed to yet, or dive into some things that she may be have had an interest in these last few years. A chance to become closer in that parent-child bond, in giving freedoms that were previously unheard of, while still showing that expectations must be met and discipline is still a constant.
It’s about the approach you take, the perspective on this time in life.
My middle son just turned 2, and is headed into the “Terrible Twos.” He is working through the balance of what’s his and not his, how to share and how to generally just express himself effectively. Screams and crying are a daily event (that’s being nice), even if they are short-lived and quickly turn to laughter. We call him the laugher-crier. I guess we can focus on that, OR we could think of this time as a point in life when everything is amazing to him! Every new word, picture, number, and sound is something to concentrate on and try to repeat or recreate! He’s learning about animals, how things work and how to put things together, both mentally and physically. The more challenging it is, the greater the feeling of accomplishment is when it is done in some way, with a yell of “I DID IT!!” Just watching the way he looks at things and tries so hard to figure it out or accomplish a task makes this dad beam with pride as he doesn’t give up and just walk away, or throw something to the side in anger!
It’s about the approach you take, the perspective you have on this time in life.
Then there is the baby. Just seven months old and learning how to sit up. Screaming for no apparent reason… Just to hear his voice when you’re trying to have a conversation with your wife for the five minutes a day you get to talk. The times he is waking up in the middle of the night for, again, no apparent reason, and not going back to sleep unless you hold him. We can think about the lack of sleep, OR we can think about how short a period in life we will be able to hold our children and comfort them with a simple hug and a kiss. Life’s difficulties just grow with age, and the needs of a baby are so simple and easy to care for. It is a magical, but all too short, time. Every hour of every day there is something new happening. We have such a short window of opportunity to create the bond that will let them know for the rest of their life that things are OK. You have people here for you. No reason to cry over the little things. Let’s laugh, instead!
It’s all about the approach. The perspective you have on this time, or any time, in life.
- Nicole Cody, co-owner, Soccer Shots Greater St. Charles, MO
Every week, thousands of children across the country learn character development words like respect and teamwork from their Soccer Shots coach. Tonight, my 3-year-old son, James, taught me a character development lesson. Here’s how it went down.
I was sitting at the dinner table, procrastinating about clearing off the dishes and putting away the leftovers, when James walked into the dining room, giggling. This is never a good sign.
“Mommy, look at me!”
His hair is dripping wet. We are about four weeks overdue for a haircut, so when I say that it’s dripping, I mean… it’s really dripping.
“James, why is your hair wet?”
More giggles. I think I know the answer to my next question, but I ask it anyway, in my coolest, calmest voice.
“James, how did your hair get wet?”
Giggles. “The TOILET!”
“The toilet? Daddy?”
Daddy, or as James calls him, Coach Daddy, is sitting on the couch, looking away so that I can’t see him laughing.
“Nope, no way, I’m working.” Side note to my husband: having a Soccer Shots flyer up on the laptop screen while playing Words With Friends on your phone doesn’t count as work, even if your Words With Friends opponent is another Soccer Shots franchise owner.
“James. Shower. Now.”
He’s giggling, and running down the hallway toward the shower. I can feel my blood pressure rising. Toilet water? Seriously? TOILET WATER?!?!!
I turn on the shower, and try to explain how yucky toilet water is. He’s less giggly and looks slightly remorseful by this point.
“Ok, James. Just get in the shower, please.”
He gets into the shower and the giggles are back. What is it about the shower that’s so hilarious? It’s a question I’ll never have an answer to… just like I’ll never know why he chose to douse his hair with toilet water.
By this point, it’s hard to be mad. He’s in the shower now, and the giggles have turned into the kind of laughter that comes from a place of pure joy. It was the kind of laughter that makes you smile when you hear it. I wash his hair… twice. He laughs. I laugh. He splashes in the water a little, and my blood pressure returns to normal.
It’s not like this evening was completely out of the ordinary. My kids do things like this ALL. THE. TIME. It drives me crazy most of the time. But tonight, I was struck by his giggles… his joy-filled giggles and grins and was reminded that these are the give-you-gray-hair kinds of moments that are going to be gone soon and replaced
by moments where he wants to play video games and is too cool to give Mom a hug in front of his buddies.
So, next time your child hands you a gray-hair kind of situation, don’t stress. Instead, stop and enjoy the grins and the giggles… it’s only toilet water, after all.
Soccer Shots Franchising, LLC · 1401 AIP Drive, Suite 200 · Middletown, PA 17057