Sports Journalism at SBU

by Ethan Back

I am a rising Junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying History and Spanish. Outside of the classroom, my passions are sports journalism and soccer, so I was very much looking forward to my summer as part of South Bronx United.

Students shared articles they wrote and received peer feedback.

I prepared as best as I could for the summer, but only when the students arrived on the first day and the program began did I truly realize what was in store for me. Almost immediately, I made relationships with the students as their mentor, teacher, and coach. I taught a class in Sports Journalism to both 7th and 8th graders and 9th and 10th graders, and used the students’ passion for soccer to improve their writing skills. We watched World Cup highlights, read game recaps, and eventually delved into more controversial topics such as racism, gender equality, and corruption in FIFA. Using these for inspiration, I watched each and every student get better at writing week by week, regardless of their starting abilities.

As a final project, each student wrote about their summer experience at SBU, ranging from special events (attending the Manchester City/Liverpool game at Yankee Stadium, meeting David Villa), to the soccer part of the program to what they learned in the classroom. It was rewarding to see how much the students developed as writers during the summer while simultaneously having them reflect on the five weeks they just enjoyed.

SBU’s summer program is a great way for kids to hone their soccer skills while also keeping their minds active and ready for the school year ahead. I hope that I made a lasting impact on the students I worked with this summer, because I know they have all made a lasting impact on me.

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What SBU was for Me

I taught Magazine Journalism during the Summer Soccer Scholars Program

By Ama Adutwiwaa

When I was introduced to South Bronx United (SBU) I was given the idea that the program was soccer oriented.  With extensive research, I realized that its not.

As part of my marketing role, I worked on the 2014 SBU Charity Cup where these board members helped raise money for SBU youth programs.

SBU is a program that uses soccer to enforce change in the lives of youth from the South Bronx. The organization uses soccer as a tool to implement the essence of education and help the youth build character. And as the youth build character they are also learning the true essence of community building and giving back to their community.

As a staff member I would honestly say that I have seen both the outside and the behind scenes to the organization. This summer I was an intern at SBU for the public relations/marketing department, a tutor for a short period of time and a magazine journalism teacher.

When interning for the public relations/marketing field I honestly really didn’t know what to expect because that was my first time stepping into the field. It started off with me editing grants, looking for media outlets and etc. which ended up becoming something that I truly enjoyed doing. I learned how non-profits gain money for their organization and learned how social media affects the brand of an organization. For when establishing an organization you must live up to your brand and SBU does exactly just that.

Teaching and tutoring were positions that I’ve held before in high school so they weren’t too new to me. But I would say that I learned how to have patience and that’s what you need when dealing with kids. A teacher must understand that this is not a one-person class but a class of 20 students with different opinions.  Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed but all you need to do is breathe. And that’s what I did everyday. I would say it wasn’t easy but I cherished every moment of being with them because they honestly became my siblings.

This summer, SBU pulled out the big kid in me and turned me into a role model for these students and I’m glad that I got the opportunity to work with them. I hope to see the organization to continue to grow and as the years go by became more and more successful. It was a pleasure working with the SBU family and I’m glad I was given this opportunity.

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A Summer Home

By Gurjinder Singh

I started working with SBU eight months ago in January as a social work intern. I had a marvelous experience tutoring many enthusiastic SBU students that I decided to continue for the summer. Growing up attending New York City Public Schools it never occurred to me how much our education here lacked until I was in the classroom teaching. Having realized that I knew I wanted to work in a school setting to help create social change and education reform.

After two weeks of intense training, I was nervous to be back in a classroom as well as ecstatic to see several of my former tutoring students. This was also the first time I grasped the soccer aspect of the program/organization, which was the reason why I joined. Though, I do not play soccer I do share the same passion for it, as do the students. My favorite aspect was watching the student’s transition from the classroom environment to the soccer field. It was as though I was watching them from a different light; they were comfortable and showed their full competence and passion for the sport. It was pleasing to watch the students practice and play against each other in SBU style World Cup matches. Secretly, non-coaching interns also had their favorite teams. It was heartbreaking when Guam lost. It was quite fascinating to see coaches playing in the matches as well, watching Coach Jamaal frolicking against the younger students like little Cristian.

Off the field, I taught a class called Life Skills. I worked alongside with Samantha Norris, the social worker and with Jessica and Jasmin from Changing the Odds. Together, we worked on a curriculum defining their social standings, and their community. As well as empowering students to start thinking about the transformations they would want to see happen in their communities by articulating themselves and working together.

Students had come up with some motivating project ideas; we had a Violence Prevention Day after they identified violence as an issue in the Bronx. We in addition, had a heartfelt discussion regarding bullying. Another concern they had had to do with loitering and air pollution. As a service project with the high school students, we did a park cleanup with the organization The Bronx is…Blooming. We removed weeds from around trees, aired the soil, and positioned mulch above the soil. Then swiped it clean as well as painted the poles around the park. I did not think the students would find this remotely interesting; nonetheless, they enjoyed getting their hands dirty.

After having developed new and prior relationships with the students and staff, I know I will stay well connected with this organization. SBU as the students call it is a home. SBU is a place where you are family regardless of your background; you do not have to know what an offside is to fit in here. I too feel I am part of this family.

I wish these students the best, which they all deserve.

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My Summer as an SBU Teacher

by Grace Feinman-Riordan

This summer during my break from studies at NYU, I was lucky enough to be able to come teach at South Bronx United. Having played and loved sports since I was in high school, I was excited to combine sports with academia. I’m not a soccer player, but I watch enough games and am well-informed enough about the sport to keep up with the kids. What’s more, this program was important to me because it especially caters to kids like my brother, who are really passionate about soccer but could be doing better in school.

From the first day, I knew I had made the right decision. It was immediately clear from the way the kids interacted with each other that they were very close, that they had known each other for a long time. Seeing the kids so comfortable with each other somehow made me more comfortable, and before long I felt like I was part of the group, that my role as a mentor made sense, which was a great feeling, especially right off the bat.

I think what makes the program really effective and special is the way that it incorporates both sports, which the kids already love, into academics and inextricably links the two. It was also very powerful to see the kids respond the way they did to a positive adult influence in their lives. It didn’t take much, just small kindnesses and respect, but you could tell that it mattered to them.  It made me remember having camp counselors when I went to day camp as a child — I always thought they were the coolest, and it felt good to be able to give that back. That might be the most influential and important part of this program — the ability to give kids that positive adult influence.

SAT prep

I taught SAT Prep. Rising seniors like Antonio spent a lot of class time writing.

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Summer Soccer Scholars Study Science, Journalism, and More

SBU Summer Scholars Canoeing at Orchard Beach Lagoon

For the fourth consecutive summer, South Bronx United’s Summer Soccer Scholars took to the classroom, the soccer field, and even the water.  The five-week program served 80 boys and girls, ages 11-18, most of whom participate in the SBU Academy program, and was held at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports on the Mott Haven High School Campus.

Studying for SATsEvery Monday through Thursday, the summer scholars attended three classes, including Environmental Science, Journalism, and Life Skills.  The Life Skills class was offered through a partnership with Changing The Odds at the Morris Heights Health Center and their Teen Outreach Program.  Classes were taught by college interns who spent seven weeks of their summer learning on the job.  The interns, who attended schools including Hunter College, Fordham University, New York University, Colorado College, SUNY Binghamton, and the University of Pennsylvania, took the opportunity to share their college experiences with their SBU students.

Fridays brought field trips that gave scholars the chance to bond and to travel beyond their neighborhoods.  Trips included Coney Island, Bear Mountain State Park, Orchard Beach, Six Flags Great Adventure, and Fordham University pool and field day.  Students with the best attendance for the entire program were rewarded with free tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park.

During classes, students produced a program news magazine and participated in service learning through the beautification of the DeVanney Triangle with the Bronx is Blooming.  In Environmental Science, students investigated human’s impact on the environment and experimented through soil and water testing.  The course culminated with a trip to the Tiorati Nature Center at Lake Tiorati, Harriman State Park.  The Bank Street College of Education‘s science director took students on an exploration of the natural environment and led the ensuing discussions.

Many students looked forward most to afternoon soccer training.  This was particularly taxing for many  youth fasted from food and water during the day in observance of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fast which coincided with the first two weeks of the program.  Twice a week, scholars participated in technical-focused soccer trainings.  Each Tuesday and Thursday brought the much anticipated SBU Summer Soccer Scholars World Cup which pitted all the plays on the field against one another.  Nepal prevailed in a hard fought victory 2-1 over Guam in the finals on a stoppage time goal.  For the students, one of the most exciting days involved a surprise visit from Spanish World Cup player David Villa, the star signing of New York City FC, the newest team of Major League Soccer.

Over the next few weeks, check back at sbUNITE! for some first-hand experiences this summer from SBU youth scholars and summer mentors.  South Bronx United thanks everyone who helps make this program possible, including all the summer staff and interns who dedicated their time; individual, corporate, and foundation donors who continue to support SBU; the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports and Mott Haven HS Campus; the NYCDOE Office of School Food and Summer Meals Program; Changing the Odds at Morris Heights Health Center; the Bronx is Blooming; New York City FC; Fordham University; Bank Street College of Education; and countless others.

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My Year in Review: SBU Boys U12 Ups and Downs

by Joan Roque, 12

Our team won this trophy from our indoor league.

South Bronx United’s Under-12 Boys had a great year in 2013-2014.  It was our first year as a team. For some of my teammates it was their first year playing for a travel team.  Even though we had some bad games, we became better as a team.  Throughout the season, we had ups and downs.  We would argue and not communicate on and off the field.  But when we trained as a team, our season became a whole lot better, in my opinion.

This spring season, our best and most memorable game was the first.  It was our best game because this was the first time that the team played in Division A.  It was against Brooklyn Juniors.  We were 2-0 down trying to tie it up, but every time we scored they scored too.  In the last 5 minutes of the match we were 4-6 down, but in these 5 minutes we scored three goals winning the match 7-6.  It was memorable because we worked as a team.

Me in a game at Pier 40 (Photo by my brother, Rocky)

But we had downs too.  One of our lowest moments was when we faced DUSC.  We were losing 2-0 and then 3-0.  In the second half we tied it up 3-3, and we scored another so we were winning 4-3.  The worst part was them scoring two goals in three minutes causing us to lose the game.

During those games, I think Samuka was a solid defender even though he usually plays in the midfield.  He saved us a couple of times in games like the opening game with Brooklyn Juniors, and he came in and took the ball away cleanly.  Prince was our top scorer with 39 goals.  I can’t think of a game when he did not score this season.

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2nd Annual SBU Charity Cup Brings Soccer Players to the Bronx while Raising Crucial Funds for South Bronx Youth Program

2014 SBU Charity Cup Champions "Full Turbo" celebrate with three South Bronx United youth.

BRONX, NY – The 2nd Annual SBU Charity Cup was held on Saturday July 12th, bringing out 12 adult soccer teams and 130 players to compete for the purpose of raising money for South Bronx United’s youth soccer, education, mentoring, and health and wellness programs.  Macombs Dam Field at the doorstep of Yankee Stadium provided the perfect venue for the day.   The Charity Cup was organized by the organization’s Junior Board and the SBU Supporters Club, a community actively dedicated to the South Bronx United’s mission of using soccer as a tool for social change by raising awareness, attending events, volunteering and providing financial support.  The day raised over $8,000 for South Bronx United youth programs serving children and youth ages 4-19.

Competing teams including Major League Soccer’s front offices; Third Rail SC, an official New York City FC Supporters Club; and PlaySoccer2Give, a New York City organization that raises money and awareness for soccer-oriented charities through adult soccer games and tournaments.  The games were competitive throughout with both the reigning champions, the Fighting Pelicans, and the SBU Supporters Club team getting knocked out in the group stage on goal difference.  In the championship game, Full Turbo, featuring South Bronx United volunteer coach Ithti Ulit, met With A Vengeance, led by SBU Board Treasurer Wilson Calle and SBU Alum Mingoro Fanny in goal.  Full Turbo prevailed 3-1 in a hard fought match.

Westchester Square Physical Therapy, National Discount Tires and Wheels Bronx, and The Royal NYC all returned as partner sponsors for the the 2014 SBU Charity Cup.  For more information about the annual event, contact info@sbusupporters.org.

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South Bronx United awards $5,000 in College Scholarships

2014 South Bronx United Scholarship Award Recipients Guibel Marino (left) and Aicha Fofana (right) with scholarship committee chair George Nantwi (center)

BRONX, NY – South Bronx United’s college scholarship program recently announced its third year of college scholarship awards.  The awards were presented  after the 2nd annual Graduates vs. Alumni game on June 28th to  two outstanding seniors, Aicha Fofana and Guibel Marino.

Aicha, 17, overcame enormous obstacles to become a high school graduate.  Speaking as valedictorian of Bronx Latin High School, she recently shared some of the challenges as well as the support network she has been fortunate to have.  Fourteen years ago, Aicha’s family fled war-torn Sierra Leone for Guinea on foot.   At that moment it would have been unimaginable that she would be about to attend the City College of New York.  While living with her aunt in the Bronx, Aicha maintained an excellent academic record with a 4.0 and top school rank.  She played on the inaugural SBU girls team and rejoined the program in 2013.  She says, “South Bronx United opens doors for youth like myself who want to be community leaders and provides a platform for their voices to be heard….  I enjoyed exploring cultures and learning from people with contrasting backgrounds.”

The second recipient, Guibel Marino, also 17, will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology where she intends to major in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering or Applied Mathematics.  She graduated this year from University Prep Charter High School where she had a 3.2 GPA.  Guibel moved from Ecuador when she was 9 years old.  She has been part of South Bronx United and the SBU Rising Stars high school girls soccer team for three years and has also volunteered with the recreational program and U14 girls program.  ”SBU taught me how to build my own strength and personality both on and off the field in the academic, athletic, and social parts of my life,” she says.  ”South Bronx United is my second family….”

Guibel will receive the PlaySoccer2Give scholarship for $1,000 to support educational expenses.  The scholarship is supported through PlaySoccer2Give, an organization that engages the New York City adult soccer community primarily through pickup soccer and soccer tournaments that help build awareness and raise money for charities that use soccer for social good.

Before Aicha and Guibel received their awards, they had they opportunity to take the field alongside fellow SBU female alumni to take on their former teammates, the underclassmen.  Although the female graduates-alumni team won 3-1, the boys game sent a reminder to the 2014 graduates they still have plenty of room to grow over the next few years; In the annual match, the boys alumni defeated the boys graduates, 4-0.

Since 2012, South Bronx United has awarded $15,000 in college scholarship to provide financial support to SBU graduates to help them attend college.  All nine recipients are still studying for their Bachelor’s Degrees at private and public colleges throughout New York state.  In addition to the new PlaySoccer2Give scholarship this year, the SBU scholarship fund is primarily supported by individuals.  If you would like to support the fund, donations are accepted at southbronxunited.org/donate.  For questions, please email info@southbronxunited.org.

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My Season in Review: SBU 00 la Furia Azul

Me (center) with my teammates Alexis and Isaac

by Angel Reyes, 13

Our U13 boys team “La Furia Azul” had a fun and challenging spring season. Our team was focused and determined to play hard through out the 10-game season. It wasn’t easy, but our team coach, Jvon had plans to improve and motivate us to become strong players. Our team had eight losses and two amazing games that we successfully won. It was rough losing, but as team captain, partnered with my co-captain, Mohammed Kouruma, we had pushed our team to think positively and play with confidence.  Since the first game me and my team have improved from the beginning to the last game of the season.

Aside from our losses, there were good things that happened. For instance our team was given an extra two minutes in the game against Chelsea Pier after we scored to tie the game two-two. We were focused on winning game when I got the ball from a kick-off and made a turn to a striker, Cisse. He was in the corner asking for the ball. I kicked the ball to him.  He shot the ball in the goalie box in front of four defenders.  GOAL!  The score was now three-two and the referee whistled the game to an end. Overall, It was a stunning game win by our team.

Warming up before a game in Brooklyn

I would have to say that my teammate who did his best this season was Alexis Vidal, the goalie of our team. For example, in another game we were tied two-two were determined to win. The ball was passed to a striker who was going to kick it past our goalie.  All of a sudden, Alexis ran to the striker and as soon as the player was about to shoot he passes and Alexis blocks the goal. It was an intense moment because the opponent’s pass had led us to believe that they were going to score.  All the same our team had won.

Another memorable moment came during the last game of our season.  We were losing 2-0 and caught up to tie the game.  In the end we lost 3-2 from what I think was an error made by the referee. But after the game ended, our coach saw the hard work we put in the game and that we never gave up.

Next year, besides winning, I want my team to work harder and think smarter so that we will become a better team!

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My Year in Review: SBU 97 Strikers

SBU 97 Strikers at the New England Soccer Classic

by Gnim Bazim, 16

South Bronx United 97 Strikers experienced an unforgettable year.  Being named team captain for the 2013/2014 season, its been with great honor to lead and help our team through the year.  Even though we had an early exit from the East New York State Cup, we still managed to seize 2nd place in the CJSL A- Division.  To end our year we did something that no other team in SBU’s history had done: take a four day trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  I personally can say with the things we experienced as a team, we have grown tremendously throughout the year, as soccer players and as young men.

We had a brief, but enjoyable Fall season. We played a total of 6 games, we had a record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties.  We could have done much better, but from those results we eventually were able to learn from our mistakes to help us with our spring season.

Two weeks before the start of our spring season game opener, our coach organized a team meeting in which we discussed our goals and objectives for the coming spring season as a team and as a family.  Coach Andrew told us about Sophomore Skills, the new educational program that 10th graders would have to attend.  Juniors in the team were required to attend SAT Prep.  In order to play, we would have to maintain good attendance at the programs.  More exciting,  he discussed our trip to Cape Cod.  After the meeting, my teammates and I had our minds set on taking 1st place in the CJSL league, going further into State Cup, and also going to Cape Cod to win the Memorial Day tournament, but most importantly have a wonderful life experience.

Everyone was excited the start of our spring season.  We began with two straight 4-0 wins, one in our league game opener and the other in our state cup opener, and we could see how great of a team we were becoming. Unfortunately we were unable to continue our success in the next two State cup matches and were eliminated in the group rounds. We were disappointed but we still had a lot to look forward to.  The team continued to work hard and show great results in the league.  We were undefeated for a while and had a chance to clinch 1st place but failed to do so with a disappointing 1-0 loss to the eventual champions SC Gjoa. We ended the season with a record of 5 wins, 2 ties and just 1 lost and we came in 2nd place. I cant say we were thrilled with coming second but I can say we had played our hardest throughout the season and should be happy with the overall performances we put in, in every game played.

Our trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts provided the perfect end to the year.  The purpose of the trip was not only to play and try to win the New England Soccer Classic but, even greater, for a chance to experience and get a sense of what life is like somewhere outside the city.  This trip was very meaningful especially to myself because for college I would like to study possibly outside the city or state and this trip allowed me and many of my teammates to get that feeling of what it would be like. On our way to Cape Cod we had stopped at the University of Connecticut (at Storrs) to meet an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team and also meet with the admissions office to give us a tour of UConn’s amazing campus.

My team in Wareham, Massachusetts

Early that evening, we arrived at the beautiful residential beach house that we stayed at in Wareham, Massachusetts.  We were welcomed by Mr and Mrs Wiegandt. They were amazing and caring people who provided  care and hospitality.  We also were welcomed by players from a local high school team in which we interacted with and got to ask questions about Cape Cod.  On Saturday, we visited Massachusetts Maritime Academy. As a club, South Bronx United has visited a numerous amount of different colleges but Massachusetts Maritime Academy was the first college any of us had seen that had a 540 foot troop ship (The TS Kennedy) as part of its school.

After visiting two amazing and astonishing colleges it was time for us to focus on the tournament, where we were playing teams mostly one year older than us in the U17 division.  We managed to make it to the championship game winning against two tough opponents from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, 2-0 and 4-0.  Before the Championship game, on Sunday we had time to ourselves, to study, work on homework, swim in the beautiful beach, sail a boat, play basketball and just relax, which was great. Our last day was the championship.  We were all motivated to win and bring back the cup.   It was going our way for a while, as we scored an early goal making the score 1-0.  However, we conceded a very unlucky goal before going into halftime, making the score 1-1.  The second half began and for a while we were dominating, but in a period of ten minutes we had conceded 3 goals, losing 4-1.  As big of a scoreline 4-1 is, it was actually a very tight game, in which we were unable to seize our opponents. None of us wanted to lose and take home just second place.  But we ended up taking home more than second place: we took home a life changing experience that none of us would ever forget.

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