Community-Focused Coach Kickoff Launches DC SCORES Spring Season

1-b1e42c.png DC SCORES coaches from across the District joined for the training and networking event.

On March 2, 2024, the new DC SCORES spring season began with a Coach Kickoff event centered on the power of community building.

Every season, DC SCORES holds a day of training sessions and networking opportunities for its more than 300 coaches across the District. This season’s event, held at John Lewis Elementary School, focused on how the DC SCORES program can leverage youth development for transformational community impact.

DC SCORES Chief Program Officer Tierra Stewart began the day by leading a session on group development theory. Coaches reflected on the team culture they had built at their schools and then identified areas where they could increase inclusivity for poet-athletes on their squads.

The training was based on a new community-building youth development framework introduced by Stewart during the winter season with a series of training sessions for DC SCORES programs team staff. The new framework focuses on how intentional community building within schools and neighborhoods can increase program quality and support young people as they navigate systemic societal barriers, such as racism, the school-to-prison pipeline, and gender inequality.

The session was followed up with a 90-minute presentation from a trainer from the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), who shared activities coaches can employ at practices, gamedays, and events to create inclusive and supportive environments for all participants. PCA, which tailored the session specifically to the DC SCORES program, is a nonprofit organization backed by sports industry leaders and world-class athletes that trains coaches around the world to apply its model of positive, evidence-based youth development practices through sports.

2-fd6f9e.png Jason Gross, DC SCORES senior director of programs, soccer, and operations, walks through an activity during a session focused on soccer practice. Photo: Elysian Photography

“We loved the PCA session, which had so many gems for community building and ways to prepare our team mindset with positivity and enthusiasm while also giving us time to reflect and plan as co-coaches,” said Sonija Parson, a DC SCORES coach at The Sojourner Truth School who attended the session alongside her fellow Truth coach, Jenna Pel. “I ran out of space while writing down notes. All of the sessions were intentional, the vibe was collegial, and we had fun.”

In the afternoon, coaches broke into groups to attend training workshops led by DC SCORES staff experts. Jason Gross, senior director of programs, soccer, and operations, hosted a session on practice activities that encourage player development at all skill levels. Gross was joined by players from City Sporting Club, a youth soccer club where Gross also serves as sporting director, who helped simulate a realistic DC SCORES soccer practice working on ball control, passing, and positioning.

In a separate session, Zarea Boyde, program coordinator, and Tatiana Figueroa Ramírez, director of creative writing and arts, led training for writing coaches who are preparing to deliver the spring service-learning curriculum. Boyde and Figueroa Ramírez’s workshop explored how the service-learning curriculum builds on poet-athletes’ fall poetry and gave coaches the opportunity to share their own experiences of developing projects for community impact.

“The passion and energy of the DC SCORES team is infectious,” said Pel, who attended the service-learning session. “I am greatly looking forward to more moments of joy and community that soccer and service learning have to offer this spring!”

“Coach Kickoff is always one of my favorite events of the season,” said Katrina Owens, executive director of DC SCORES. “We are so fortunate to have hundreds of dedicated community leaders in our coaching community, and finding time and space for intentional reflection on their incredible work is powerful. I can’t wait to see what they achieve this season!”

3-a29701.png Tatiana Figueroa Ramírez (left), DC SCORES director of creative writing and arts, led a session on the service-learning curriculum.

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