The Roar

Boys Soccer Gives Back

Each week, the varsity boys soccer team volunteers at a  local elementary school

In a new tradition created by coach Stephane Longchamp, the boys varsity soccer team assembles every Thursday at Potowmack Elementary to help students who are struggling with reading. Each player is partnered with a Potowmack student, and spend about 30 minutes working together to improve their comprehensive reading skills.

Potowmack’s learning specialists identified students who could benefit from this extra help, and the boys soccer team then stepped up to volunteer.

“Our boys help the students to consistently work on their reading skills and create an opportunity through these relationships to build up their confidence in their reading abilities,” said Longchamp. “[The program] is about being able to drive a connection from our program back into the community and really giving those younger kids something to look forward to every week.”

Each participating Potowmack student is urged to bring an independent reading book that is a little harder than their current reading level as the challenge will push the kids to broaden their vocabulary.

Longchamp initiated this program in the spring of 2016, the first year he began coaching the varsity soccer team. Each year, the boys begin volunteering at the start of the soccer season and continue throughout the spring.

“My hope for the program is to show the players how to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” said Longchamp. “It’s definitely a humbling experience and helps to build a sense of commitment for our boys.”

Jia Yang Choo, a senior on the team, has been volunteering at Potowmack for two years.

“I love volunteering,” said Choo. “It makes me feel like I am doing something with my life rather than losing in soccer.”

This year, Choo is paired up with a student Rex. “[Rex is] a really nice kid but he’s very shy. If I start conversations with him he’ll open up quicker,” said Choo.

Over the past six weeks, Choo has seen Rex’s reading levels improve gradually.

“He’s getting to know a lot more terms since we started working together,” said Choo. “He’s always known how to pronounce words, he just never understood what they meant.”

One of Choo’s favorite memories of volunteering is when the Potowmack Elementary students come to watch one of their games; this year, students came to their home game on April 30. “It is nice to see them coming to support us like we supported them,” said Choo. “They’re also always louder than the parents so that’s definitely a plus.”


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