Sunnyvale E-Soccer Coach, Felipe shares his perspective on fellow coach, Danika…
“I went originally thinking it would be cool to help kids out, but I didn’t realize that they would actually be changing my life…I feel like every Saturday changes my life.” -Danika (Sunnyvale E-Soccer Coach & San Jose State senior kinesiology student)
Every Saturday morning rain or shine, next to Fairwood Elementary School in Sunnyvale, a score of highly spirited college students take the field to prepare for yet another exciting day of E-Soccer. As the fatigue from a week’s worth of homework and tests is washed away after an exhilarating coach’s pre-game, the kids begin to rush in from all directions. The sudden charge of small children towards their coaches can sometimes be overwhelming to inexperienced coaches, but to those coaches who have been serving for quite some time, it is a magnificent sight – truly one to behold. One of those now more experienced coaches is someone who is very passionate about coaching and loving kids. Her name is Danika. A senior at San Jose State University majoring in kinesiology, she has been a coach at E-Soccer for almost two years after hearing about it through the “SpeakOut” Student Organization on campus. And Danika is no stranger to being a leader in the sport. Danika has played soccer her entire life, whether it was on school teams or competitive soccer clubs, her love for the sport is unquestionable. For her, soccer is not just a sport, it’s a passion. She has coached at numerous soccer camps before joining E-Soccer and says that her experience in E-Soccer compared to other camps has been “incredible”.
Danika says that it’s her love of soccer and mentoring kids that motivates her to be a coach. She wants to not just explain the drills to the kids but to teach them how to build character through sportsmanship, to build friendships, and to develop a genuine love for soccer. By her unique approach to coaching, it’s no wonder that Danika is such an exemplary leader out on the field. Over the past year, as a coach for the “9 and up” age group, Danika says she has been inspired by the growth her group has had. “It always makes me happy to see kids who would be hesitant to touch the ball on the first day dribble down the field and score a goal a few weeks later. So many of the kids come out of their shell and have a great time throughout the duration of the season.”
Through her attentiveness to the diversity of special needs children in her group, her love and care for the kids has grown immensely. Actually, Danika is not a stranger to being exposed to special needs. She had an older brother who struggled with Down Syndrome but sadly passed away. Ever since then, she has developed an immense heart for the special needs community. “I think the kids are the most inspiring to me. They have to live with conditions every day that most of us will never have to deal with, yet they still have so much capacity to love. I think that’s awesome. I went originally thinking it would be cool to help kids out, but I didn’t realize that they would actually be changing my life…I feel like every Saturday changes my life.”
Danika is a passionate coach that I have come to look up to and respect over the last year of coaching along side her. I definitely believe that her leadership exemplifies all the values that we coaches at E-Soccer strive to uphold – to be inclusive, compassionate, patient, and most of all loving towards our ever-expanding E-Soccer family.