Best of 2023: DC SCORES Staff Reflect On Top Moments of the Year

Best of 2023 - Twitter (4)-d6083a.png 2023 marked another successful year of DC SCORES programming, with staff highlights including Women’s World Cup celebrations, the 20th anniversary of SCORES Cup, and an Our Words Our City featuring inaugural Poet-Athlete Award Winner Clint Smith.

2023 was a banner year for DC SCORES. The organization expanded into 3 more schools and marked a record year of fundraising success thanks to an engaged community of supporters and partners.

As the year comes to a close, DC SCORES staff members reflect on some of their favorite moments of the year, from celebrating long-term DC SCORES mentors to witnessing the powerful performances of poet-athletes on the poetry stage.

14. Coach Rob Retirement Game

Best of 2023 - Twitter.png Coach Rob, pictured center with Katrina Owens (left) and Janeese Lewis George (right), served as a DC SCORES coach for almost three decades.

On May 11, DC SCORES celebrated the retirement of Charles Robinson, a coach at Truesdell Elementary School. “Coach Rob,” as he was known to generations of students, served as a DC SCORES coach for 27 years and was honored in a ceremony led by Truesdell poet-athletes and Janeese Lewis George, Ward 4 Councilmember and a DC SCORES alumna.

“Coach Rob has been part of DC SCORES for almost as long as we have existed. His impact on young people in DC is immeasurable,” says Katrina Owens, Executive Director of DC SCORES. “Celebrating his DC SCORES legacy with so many of the Truesdell youth he has mentored to become engaged poet-athletes was truly inspiring. He will always be an icon of the DC SCORES community.”

Learn more about Coach Rob’s DC SCORES impact.

13. Goals for Girls

Best of 2023 - Twitter (1).png Poet-athletes from Cardozo Education Campus celebrate a win at the Goals for Girls soccer clinic.

On June 5, DC SCORES teamed up with the Washington Spirit and local high school volunteers to host Goals for Girls, a soccer clinic for poet-athletes to connect with female role models.

Initiated by DMV teenager and soccer player Loretta Talbott, the clinic engaged players from DC SCORES girls’ teams at Ida B. Wells Middle School, Cardozo Education Campus, and Truesdell Elementary School in soccer drills and activities led by Spirit players and up-and-coming high school players.

“Goals for Girls was everything I wish I could have had growing up,” says Jane Wong, Communications Intern. “Getting the opportunity to meet other women who have turned your passion into a living is empowering. I loved being a part of this happy moment.”

Check out photos from the Goals for Girls event.

12. 20th Anniversary SCORES Cup

Best of 2023 - Twitter (2).pngDC SCORES celebrated 20 years of SCORES Cup with limited edition commemorative jerseys and team shirts.

In 2023, DC SCORES marked 20 years of SCORES Cup, the organization’s annual tournament fundraiser. Since the first six-team iteration of the tournament in 2003, SCORES Cup has grown into the largest corporate soccer tournament fundraiser on the East Coast and was held this year at The Fields at RFK.

To mark the 20th anniversary, captains of teams that have played in the tournament throughout its two-decade history were presented with a commemorative jersey drawing on 90s aesthetics and artifacts from the first-ever tournament.

“The tournament was really big this year, and we had a ton of new teams join and experience the fun and competitive atmosphere for the first time,” says Danny Sheerin, Senior Programs Manager, who was one of the lead organizers for SCORES Cup. “For a huge chunk of players, that day is the first introduction they have to learn more about our kids and our program. It’s always awesome when they ask how they can get more involved and see our kids in action throughout the year.”

Read more about the 20th anniversary of SCORES Cup.

11. Summer Camp at John Lewis Elementary School

Best of 2023 - Twitter-16dca3.png Poet-athletes in the Sixteenth Street Heights neighborhood enjoyed more SCORES at summer camp this year.

This summer, poet-athletes at John Lewis Elementary School and the Sixteenth Street Heights neighborhood got an extra dose of DC SCORES at summer camp! Led by DC SCORES staff members, coaches, and volunteers, camp was an opportunity for rising 4th and 5th graders to hone their soccer skills, practice their writing, and try out lots of new activities in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) curriculum.

“All the kids had positive attitudes and were always willing to try out the activities we were doing and play,” says José Granados, a Program Coordinator at DC SCORES and one of the counselors leading summer camp this year. “We had fantastic guests come share what they do, from professional poets and soccer freestylers to staff from the Australian and New Zealand embassies. Overall, we had a ton of fun at camp this year.”

Read more about DC SCORES summer camp.

10. Train Like A Pro With Ashley Hatch

Best of 2023 - Twitter-a14d62.png DC SCORES Board Member and Washington Spirit star Ashley Hatch hosted adult soccer clinics to raise money to bus poet-athletes to Spirit games at Audi Field.

On March 18 and November 4, DC SCORES Board Member and Washington Spirit star Ashley Hatch gave DC SCORES supporters the chance to train like professional soccer players in two exclusive adult soccer clinics, with all proceeds benefitting DC SCORES.

The sessions were led by Hatch alongside Spirit players and coaching staff, with participants experiencing elite-level warm-ups and passing, shooting, and dribbling drills. Held at Cardozo Education Campus, poet-athletes from the school also supported the event and even got the chance to take part in the drills themselves!

“Our poet-athletes are so lucky to get to engage regularly with incredible pro players like Ashley Hatch, so it was really fantastic to show some of our supporters the impact of that star power,” says Tony Francavilla, Chief Development Officer. “So many of those in attendance are massive Spirit fans, and everything we raised will go toward covering transportation for DC SCORES teams to attend Spirit games at Audi Field. It was genuinely heartwarming to see the clinic participants having fun while helping build the next generation of fans.”

Read more about Ashley Hatch and the Washington Spirit partnership with DC SCORES.

9. One Night One Goal

Best of 2023 - Twitter (1)-59ca95.png Attendees at One Night One Goal broke DC SCORES fundraising records with their generous support.

On October 13, One Night One Goal broke the all-time DC SCORES fundraising record when the Audi Field event brought in more than $500,000 for poet-athletes in DC.

Attendees at the star-studded event mingled with some of DC’s top soccer players, bid on exclusive auction items donated by Audi, D.C. United, and the Washington Spirit, and enjoyed performances from some of the region’s best professional spoken word artists and musicians.

“This was my first ever One Night One Goal, and it was so incredible to see this community come together to support our poet-athletes,” says Megan Testen, Senior Development Manager of Grants. “Seeing everyone dressed up and having fun was a great way to kickstart a brilliant season of programming that will be sustained through attendees’ incredible generosity.”

Read more about One Night One Goal.

8. Capital Cup

Best of 2023 - Twitter (3).png Poet-athletes had the opportunity to play in front of their supporters at DC’s iconic soccer stadium: Audi Field.

On November 17, middle school poet-athletes realized a dream held by many DC soccer fans: to play a championship game under the lights at Audi Field.

The top teams in DC SCORES’ co-ed, girls, and boys public and charter school leagues battled it out at the iconic stadium to be crowned District champions, with winners receiving their silverware from D.C. United player Donovan Pines.

“Capital Cup brought back so many memories to me and I was very touched and impressed by the growth of DC SCORES,” says Josselin Possian, Associate Programs Manager and DC SCORES alumnus who now plays for the Maryland Bobcats. “I remember playing on a patch hole field, now I’m seeing our youth have the chance to play at Audi Field! Seeing the joy on the players’, families’, and friends’ faces was breathtaking.”

Read more about Capital Cup.

7. Australian and New Zealand Embassies World Cup Party

Best of 2023 - Twitter (4).png Poet-athletes attending summer camp celebrated the Women’s World Cup with staffers from the embassies of the tournament’s host nations, Australia and New Zealand.

On July 28, DC SCORES summer campers got a taste of the Women’s World Cup (and traditional Australasian barbeque!) when staffers from the Embassies of Australia and New Zealand hosted a soccer, poetry, and cookout party at John Lewis Elementary School.

Students also had the chance to meet diplomatic and cultural dignitaries from the two countries, including Paul Myler, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy, and Chris Tse, New Zealand Poet Laureate, who gave a reading and talk at the event.

“It was so important to me that we expose our poet-athletes to the incredible world of women’s soccer. We hosted an internal World Cup tournament, where campers learned about the two host countries and participating teams — they even foreshadowed Spain as the winner!” says Saede Eifrig, Associate Programs Manager. “The embassies’ visit was an incredible opportunity for poet-athletes to showcase their knowledge and ask more questions. It was a blast watching them work together as teammates with the embassy staff!”

Read more about the Embassies’ party.

6. Seaton Elementary Mini-Pitch Debut at MLS All-Star Week

Best of 2023 - Twitter (5).png Seaton poet-athletes and MLS All-Stars take the honorary “first kick” at the opening of the school’s mini-pitch. Photo: MLS WORKS

On July 17, poet-athletes at Seaton Elementary joined forces with MLS All-Star players and Arsenal legends Lauren and Ray Parlour to officially open a new mini-pitch in the school’s playground as part of an MLS All-Star Week Community Day.

Seaton poet-athletes designed the pitch with Design FC and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for their spring service-learning project, and proudly christened the new amenity with an honorary “first kick” alongside their soccer idols.

“The mini-pitch reveal at the MLS Community Day had everything a kid could want. A free MLS jersey, Arsenal legends, freestyle jugglers, and the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches in the areas,” says Brian Anderson, Associate Programs Manager, who spearheaded the project with Seaton. “The Seaton youth smiling and screaming in disbelief after seeing their poem and artwork come to life will forever be cemented in my mind. Many of us have great ideas, but few of us are able to follow through on them to completion, so this project raised the confidence of the poet-athletes.”

Read more about DC SCORES’ MLS All-Star Week activities.

5. Steve Birnbaum Visit to Stanton Elementary for Audi Goals Drive Progress Program with The Players’ Tribune

Best of 2023 - Twitter (6).png D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum visited the school to highlight the work of DC SCORES and celebrate a $20,000 contribution to the program through the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund.

On September 27, D.C. United captain Steve Birnbaum joined Junior SCORES poet-athletes for a very special game day at Stanton Elementary. Birnbaum, who has sinced joined the DC SCORES board, partnered with Audi and The Players’ Tribune as part of the Audi Goals Drive Progress Program to support community initiatives championed by MLS athletes.

Birnbaum led the poet-athletes from Stanton and Malcolm X Elementary in warm ups before helping to run their games and delivering inspiring pep talks to the young players.

“Steve’s visit came just two days after a very challenging incident for students and staff at Stanton, and it was clear that his presence gave everyone a huge boost,” says Mairead MacRae, Senior Director of Communications. “Stanton has only been part of our program for two years but the coaching team has already achieved incredible things at the school. It was a privilege to see the school community share those achievements with Steve and watch him, and our poet-athletes, light up as they celebrated the joy of a DC SCORES game day.”

Learn more about Birnbaum’s visit to Stanton and the Audi Goals Drive Progress program.

4. Jamboree at Anacostia Park

Best of 2023 - Twitter-060ba3.png Jamboree welcomed thousands of poet-athletes and their families to Anacostia Park to celebrate DC SCORES’ spring season.

On June 7, elementary school poet-athletes celebrated another successful spring season with Jamboree, DC SCORES’ soccer tournament and community festival at Anacostia Park.

More than 2,500 kids and family member joined for the event that included a series of 7-a-side soccer matches, field games, arts and crafts, and the chance to meet special guests, including D.C. United mascot Talon and professional freestyle footballers from Undefined Fútbol.

“I loved seeing the joy on the faces of the poet-athletes and families who were present to support them,” says Jason Gross, Senior Director of Programs, Soccer and Operations. “They were completely engaged in fun, and I can’t wait for our next event.”

Read more about Jamboree.

3. Fall Frenzies at The Fields at RFK

Best of 2023 - Twitter (3)-260c6c.png A poet-athlete celebrates scoring a goal at Junior Fall Frenzy.

On October 18 and 28, poet-athletes in DC SCORES’ Junior and Elementary School programs came together for the non-profit’s signature fall season events: Fall Frenzies!

In addition to participating in a soccer tournament and relay games and crafts, poet-athletes had the opportunity to meet some local VIPs, including professional players from D.C. United and the Washington Spirit, and the Miss World America representatives for Washington, DC, and Maryland.

“Fall Frenzy was a powerful display of community and a great demonstration of the impact of DC SCORES’ presence in the lives of DC youth,” says Tierra Stewart, Chief Program Officer. “The environment was nurturing to poet-athletes, coaches, families, staff, and volunteers. These are the types of experiences our youth will never forget. It’s not just soccer that creates an opportunity for teamwork and sportsmanship, but the connection we all feel when we gather that activates our spirit.”

Read more about Fall Frenzy.

2. Our Words Our City

Best of 2023 - Twitter (2)-ffa74a.png Youth W.O.R.D. Project poet-athlete Maya performs at Our Words Our City.

On May 16, poet-athletes in DC SCORES’ Youth W.O.R.D. Project stepped into the spotlight at Arena Stage and shared their original poetry in front of an audience of hundreds.

The young people’s powerful performances were accompanied by a reading from award-winning writer and DC SCORES Board Member Clint Smith, who shared excerpts from his latest poetry collection, Above Ground. Smith was also presented with the inaugural Poet-Athlete Award, which is given annually to an individual, or group of individuals, who embody the ethos of DC SCORES poet-athletes.

“This year’s Our Words Our City felt like magic,” says Zarea Boyde, Program Coordinator for Creative Writing, who leads the Youth W.O.R.D. Project. “To see the kids so excited to showcase the work that we did all season was absolutely heartwarming.”

Read more about Our Words Our City.

1. Poetry Slams

2-79b28f.png A poet-athlete delivers his solo peformance at the Eastside Poetry Slam.

Across performances on November 15, 29, and 30, more than 2,500 elementary and middle school poet-athletes took to the stage to share their original poetry at DC SCORES Poetry Slams.

The young people raised their voices on a range of issues, from the impact of gun violence and the urgency of climate change to their experience as immigrants and their love for their communities. The series of powerful performances moved audiences of hundreds and represented the culmination of a season of work in the SCORES writing program.

“I loved seeing how invested our poet-athletes, coaches, and community members were in the poetry slams! The energy, the turn out, the excitement. We had packed rooms all supporting our poet-athletes,” says Tatiana Figueroa Ramírez, Director of Creative Writing. “It was truly beautiful to see everyone coming together to celebrate their hard work from the season.”

Read more about Westside and Eastside Poetry Slams and Middle School Slam.

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