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.