How I Learned Young to Value Volunteering

I’ve been a volunteer E-Soccer coach since 2002. While today it’s a passion of mine and is something I advocate for fiercely, it’s not something I immediately fell in love with at first. I was a middle school kid who liked to sleep in and mostly valued the importance of Saturday morning cartoons and cereal. It was all about me. I didn’t want to take time out of my life to give to other people.

I wasn’t enthusiastic to start going to E-Soccer. It took me away from the things I enjoyed and prioritized at the time. But over time I became endeared to the kids I coached. I began to notice how the kids with special needs had a joy and enthusiasm for things that I lacked. Their excitement made me excited to be there. I began to appreciate the enjoyment they brought to the field.

I grew up playing sports – baseball, football, basketball and running track. It was something I went to for friendships and happiness. There was always something to do throughout the year when it came to sports and athletics, and most of the time it revolved around me. Volunteering at E-Soccer helped shift my focus and show me that I can use athletics to assist others. It eventually clicked in my head when I realized that I needed to alter what I prioritize – to not chase a personal best or win a game for myself but to be involved in changing a life, one hour every Saturday morning.

Now, I don’t think I could be doing anything else with my Saturday mornings. I get the opportunity to help a parent feel like their child is in a safe place, where they can watch him/her play sports without fret or worry. As well, I can help bring joy to a kid through participation and inclusion. What else could I do? I think that it is the best way to use a Saturday.