E-Soccer had taught me lessons that no SAT class can prep you for. I coached at E-Soccer for all four years in high school, and I continued coaching throughout college. My experiences in E-Soccer not only taught me compassion and empathy, but I also learned character and leadership skills that I needed for college. In all the hustle and bustle to get into college, we tend to miss out on the more important aspects of what college admission officers are looking for. A recent survey from US News reported that 72% of college admission officers are looking for students that are consistently involved with one issue over a period of time. E-Soccer is an opportunity for coaches to learn inclusion, innovation, and the investment that colleges are searching for. Here are a few ways that E-Soccer taught me these lessons and helped me in college.
Colleges are looking for students who are passionate about their cause. In the same US News article, James Elbaor, head of one of the largest volunteer sites, said, “Admissions officers want well-rounded applicants who take their studies seriously, are engaged in a cause or two they are passionate about.” It is important to have a cause that you are passionate about and to have a heart for the people you work with.
It is hard not to be passionate about others once you are at E-Soccer. I am always excited to coach when I take time to get to know families and their stories. It is incredible to see how far players grow throughout the season when you stay invested. Nothing can replace the look of a parent’s face when they see their kids scoring a goal or playing in a game for the first time. Families are always blown away when their kids overcome different obstacles. Volunteering at E-Soccer developed a passion in me to give back to others and the compassion to work with kids in the future. My experience with E-Soccer led me to choose a child development major and later on work with high school students. The empathy and compassion I learned at E-Soccer stuck with me beyond high school.
In college you meet a lot of new people from all different backgrounds. Inclusion is an important quality for college and in a future career. E-Soccer helped me to be aware of the needs of others. Players at E-Soccer might need a different type of support or environment to succeed at the game. Coaching taught me how to be aware of others’ needs and how to create solutions to help them succeed. I learned how to look out for players who need to learn the soccer drill a different way or who might need some extra support in other ways. When you learn to empathize with others, it is much easier to create an inclusive environment.
Leadership means that you are always looking for new ways to innovate and make new connections. At E-Soccer I learned how to lead as a coach, and later on I was able to help train new coaches as well. There were times when the day did not go according to plan, but I had to learn to be flexible and be innovative to find a new ways to keep our players involved. I also learned how important it is to work as a team. The parents, coaches, and head coaches all needed to work together to make E-Soccer successful for the players.
When I started college at Cal, I wanted to find a way to coach E-Soccer and get my classmates involved. I had to find a creative way to get E-Soccer started, which led to pairing up with Autism Speaks UC Berkeley. We were able to create a new E-Soccer program in Berkeley with their help and the help of several other coaches and amazing volunteers. We have had our first year of Berkeley E-Soccer, and it has been a huge success.