Needed: talented soccer players with a passion for creating positive change in the Brookline community.
The boys and girls soccer teams’ volunteer efforts benefit the teams themselves and the community.
According to girls soccer coach Robert Sprague, the biggest day of volunteering is the 3v3 tournament, which happens every June.
“The most important chunk of the tournament is 1st grade through 8th grade. During that whole tournament, all the kids’ teams are coached by players from the high school, boys and girls,” Sprague said. “They’re able to give back to the soccer community, they’re able to help volunteer and help raise money for the soccer program at BHS as well.”
Boys soccer coach Kyle Beaulieu-Jones said that the tournament is one of the most rewarding days of the year because the high school athletes go out of their way to support the younger players.
“Whether you have the team that’s going to win the tournament or the team that hasn’t won a game the entire time, they really work to make it enjoyable, make them better and make them enjoy the game of soccer while having fun during the process,” Beaulieu-Jones said.
According to Brookline Soccer Club president Chan MacVeagh, many soccer players contribute to the community by refereeing games for the younger kids.
“Without the kids that referee, it would be very difficult for us to sustain all of the games that we have because every Saturday, we have 40 games, and we need three referees for every game, so we have some adults that do it, but most of that group is kids at the high school and Brookline kids that play for us, but might go to a private school,” MacVeagh said.
MacVeagh also said that some of the high school soccer players are occasionally assistant coaches for the younger teams. According to MacVeagh, assistant coaches tend to demonstrate technique and give extra explanations to players who do not understand the coach’s initial explanation.
“It’s a great window for the kids. Because I’m an old guy, the fact that I can do it is irrelevant, and I don’t seem as connected with them, but if they can see a 9th or 10th grade boy or girl do it, it feels more accessible to them, more relevant, more possible,” MacVeagh said.
Beaulieu-Jones said that another event during which the boys soccer team contributes to the community is the annual Kicks for Cancer event, a game between Brookline and Newton North that raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This past year, Kicks for Cancer raised over $50,000 for the cause. During the game, athletes wear pink and light blue jerseys to support cancer.
“On each of those jerseys, each player puts not their name, but puts an individual’s name on the back of their shirt who they’re dedicating that game to,” Beaulieu-Jones said. “It’s typically someone who has beaten cancer, is going through cancer, or if you had lost a family friend or sibling or anything like that. The game has so many different meanings to so many different people.”
Beaulieu-Jones said that he wants to try to look for more opportunities for the high school soccer players to volunteer.
“I think that there’s something we can do more for the actual youth within Brookline, so I would like to have players give back to the community more,” Beaulieu-Jones said. “It is a huge part of representing your community and trying to make your community proud.”
Sprague said that the more the soccer teams volunteer, the more the community benefits.
“We all live here, but until there are moments when we can all connect, it’s difficult for us to really know and appreciate one another,” Sprague said.