by Elizabeth Marvel, Associate Director of Admissions
When the school day ends, Eaglets flock to the Graded Athletics Fields. A wide array of Lower School student-athletes are enthusiastic members of the Eaglets Soccer Program, which introduces the basic principles of soccer and keeps the game fun. A great success, the club continues to grow and has almost doubled in size over the past year.
All students are welcome to join the Eaglets, with no tryouts necessary. Olivia H. saw her older brother play with the Eaglets and followed in his footsteps, joining two years ago. Nicholas H., also in his second year in the program, says he participates because he loves soccer and wants to spend time with his friends.
Graded Eaglets build individual technical skills under the guidance of supportive coaches and later implement them by participating in scrimmages and friendly games. These matches also allow young athletes to realize their roles as parts of a team. The Internal Soccer Championship, consisting of games in which students from third to sixth grade compete, became one of the program's highlights. Gabriela B. enthuses that the matches are very fun and adds, "I really liked the medals!"
These student-athletes learn valuable lessons on and off the field. "We have two big targets: developing soccer skills and life and cognitive skills with the same importance," says Eaglets Program Coordinator Carlos Pereira. "Commitment, self-control, cooperation, self-confidence, respect, discipline, meritocracy, leadership, and solidarity are part of our methodology."
Through the program, young athletes notice their improved soccer skills. Hamilton A. notes he's become better at defense, and Gabriela B. and Olivia H. say they've been working on a new technique to kick the ball. The Eaglets are also aware of the skills they can take off the pitch. Gabriela B. smiles, "I used to be very competitive, but I've learned the value of teamwork." Olivia H. adds that she's cultivated leadership skills while participating in the program. Nicholas H. exclaims, "I've learned a lot about sportsmanship!"
Of course, this year looks different. The program has implemented safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic, such as mandatory masks and more individual activities. It has also suspended matches against fellow clubs and schools. Hamilton A. says he misses these games and is very eager to resume them in the future. However, he comments that his favorite aspects of the program remain: being with his coaches, playing with his friends, and learning new skills. Mr. Pereira is glad to offer the Eaglets program during this time, remarking that it's an "opportunity to return to socializing and playing sports, which is very important for students' physical and mental health."
Mr. Pereira and his cadre of talented coaches lead a transformative soccer program in which students work hard, grow stronger, and become a part of a community. Rafa V. has played soccer since he was three, but his time with the Eaglets has deepened his appreciation for the beautiful game and given him new opportunities, like being invited to play with the JV team. When asked if he's proud to be an Eaglet, he beams, "Of course!"