During five weeks of July and August, South Bronx United’s Summer Soccer Scholars demonstrated that summer isn’t just fun and games. 80 student-athletes, going into grades 6 through 12, tested engineering and physics principles, debated controversial criminal cases, created shorts films, were educated on teen health issues, and refined college essays. In addition, they competed and trained on the soccer field every afternoon for games and even took to the water during weekly field trips.
The summer scholars attended classes in the mornings every Monday through Thursday. South Bronx United partnered with the Inwood House to offer the Making Proud Choices teen health curriculum. Other classes were taught by undergraduate and graduate program interns who spent six summer weeks learning on the job. The interns–who attend Hunter College, Hofstra University, SUNY Binghamton, Dickinson College, Union College, and New York University–took ample opportunity to share their college experiences with their SBU students. Additionally, Amanda Berg, a Lewis Hines Documentary Fellow from Duke University assisted in planning and instruction for the filmmaking course.
Students culminated their summer workshops in several ways. Rising 9th graders held a mock debate at the New York Law School based on the murder case investigated in the Serial podcast series. Middle school students experimented with final engineering projects that tested the insulating value of various materials. Several classes shared their final videos. Rising 10th and 11th graders completed their first practice SAT.
Outside the classroom, students had the opportunity to travel around the metropolitan area every Friday. They found the beach and entertainment at Coney Island, hiked and swam at Bear Mountain State Park, canoed at Orchard Beach, swam and toured Fordham University, and celebrated at Six Flags Great Adventure. Students with the best attendance for the duration of the program were rewarded with free tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park. High school students also had the opportunity to tour SUNY Purchase and watch a New York City FC training session, featuring international stars David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard.
Many students looked forward most to afternoon soccer training. The heat took a toll, especially during the first week of the program when many Muslim youth fasted during the day in observance of the holy month of Ramadan. However, many players displayed a strong effort on the field. Twice a week, scholars participated in technical-focused soccer trainings. Then, each Tuesday and Thursday brought the much anticipated SBU Summer Soccer Scholars World Cup. The tournament split all the players onto four teams (representing FIFA’s four lowest ranked nations) for a summer long competition. Team Somalia defeated Team Mongolia on penalty kicks in the finals.
This was the fifth summer that South Bronx United has offered the Summer Soccer Scholars program. The program was held at Mott Haven High School Campus’ Bronx Leadership Academy II. Participating students attend schools throughout the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.
South Bronx United thanks everyone who helps make this program possible, including all the summer staff and interns who dedicated their time; BlackRock and Goldman Sachs who specifically support this program with grants, as well as other individual, corporate, and foundation donors who continue to support SBU; Bronx Leadership Academy II, the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports, and the Mott Haven HS Campus; the NYCDOE Office of School Food and Summer Meals Program; the Inwood House; the new York Law School; New York City FC; Fordham University; and countless others.