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Leesburg, VA, (02/18/21) – As a professional soccer franchise in the nation’s capital, the Washington Spirit is committed to making an impact on those around us. Since driving change is a collaborative effort, we’ve partnered with a number of incredible organizations to fully serve those in the community.
Now, we want to help you get to know these organizations. Today, our community spotlight will feature the lovely folks at DC SCORES.
DC SCORES, originally founded by Julie Kennedy in Washington, D.C. in 1994, now has 11 programs based across the U.S. and in Canada as part of America and Canada SCORES. Their mission is to ensure that children from all backgrounds experience the joys of sports, arts, service and being part of a team. DC SCORES focuses on allowing every child, no matter their family circumstances, to feel empowered to find academic success and grow into an emotionally and physically healthy teen and adult.
As an organization, DC SCORES has been part of the soccer fabric of the DMV since its inception in 1994. Over the past 27 years, they’ve grown to serve more than 3,000 kids at 70 schools and recreation centers. Throughout their history, there has been hard work put in to make sure there is an even split between males and females in the program. Not only is DC SCORES committed to growing the sport, but they also work tirelessly at growing the women’s game in particular.
DC SCORES has always maintained relationships over the years with women’s soccer clubs in the community, first with the Freedom and then with the Spirit, but there has always been a desire to do more. In 2020, DC SCORES and the Spirit formalized a strong partnership, one of the highlights in an otherwise difficult year.
What made DC SCORES such an appealing partner was their work in the community and in particular, serving vulnerable populations, which were disproportionately affected during the pandemic.
“Times are tough for everybody right now, but the kids we serve are a vulnerable population within a vulnerable population,” said Chief Development Officer Tony Francavilla. “It’s a dual pandemic: COVID is having a disproportionate impact on black and brown families, and then there’s the existing pandemic of systemic racism that’s often played out in its worst form right there on the computer or television.”
“Our goal throughout the pandemic has been to keep our poet-athletes feeling safe, supported, connected, and hopeful,” he continued. “We’ve done that with the help of our coaches—most of them teachers at the schools where they coach—who have delivered nearly 2,000 virtual poetry and soccer sessions over the course of the year and kept our teams together all year long.”
See what DC SCORES has meant during the pandemic to the coaches in their own words.
Over the past few months, the partnership has helped connect the children at DC SCORES with players at the Spirit, making them feel like they are a part of something bigger than just soccer.
“Our partnership over the last couple years and in 2020 especially has delivered on that,” Francavilla said. “Our girls from Brightwood Middle School were guests of the Spirit at one of the Audi Field matches in 2019—it was their first Spirit match. Two months later the same girls were on Audi Field under the lights winning the middle school championship game.”
And the partnership extends far beyond the grass of Audi Field.
“Paige Nielsen was a regular guest in our virtual sessions and even shared some poetry of her own at one point,” Francavilla said. “Some of the most talented DC SCORES alumnae trained all year in cleats they got from Ashley Hatch. Almost the entire team came out to help us pack hundreds of kits to send out to our kids. The list goes on and on in spite of all the challenges this year.”
Although volunteering has taken on different forms during the pandemic, if you would like to get involved with DC SCORES, follow them on social media and tune into their virtual events, donate new or slightly used cleats, and donate at www.dcscores.org.
When in-person events resume, DC SCORES relies on volunteer referees for elementary school games, volunteers to help coordinate annual tournaments and have poetry performances all over the city throughout the year that Spirit supporters are invited to attend.