High school, middle school students help season continue

Mary Murphy, an eighth grader at Cole Middle School, is among a group of local students who recently stepped up to coach youth soccer this season after learning the East Greenwich Soccer Association was in need of volunteers.  


EAST GREENWICH – Local high and middle schoolers recently provided an assist to the East Greenwich Soccer Association (EGSA), volunteering when the youth soccer program was in need of coaches. Instead of some teams facing the possibility of not playing, EGSA said the season has run smoothly and all were able to participate because of the students stepping up. 

“EGSA is always thrilled to add student coaches to our volunteer roster,” said Angelique Stiglic, EGSA President. “Younger kids love to interact with ‘big kids’ and really respond to their coaching. As a volunteer-run organization, we love to sew the fruits of volunteerism in younger people.” 

“Volunteering at this young age cultivates life skills such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, planning, and communication,” Stiglic continued. “We greatly appreciate their commitment, energy, and giving spirit and we hope more students take this opportunity in future seasons.” 

Faced with an unprecedented season due to the pandemic and its largest player base registered in the last 10 years, EGSA in May was not sure how it would find coaches to staff all 52 teams required. Soccer is traditionally played in the fall, and with the pandemic seeming to wane and summer looming, the updated season saw over 400 youth register to play. Taking to social media, EGSA released flyers seeking volunteers, and that’s when the students responded. 

“I started getting emails from the high school students or their parents,” said Audra Esper, EGSA Communications Director. “Before we knew it, our super six high schoolers had saved the day for these kids.” 

Omar Akhtar, Mary Murphy, Addie Burkett, Leo Paradise, Ben Neimark and Ameen Raissi contacted the organization and said they could help. Local high schools typically require volunteer service hours as a graduation requirement. While learning about the benefits of civil service, the young adults also got a chance to establish contacts, network, work with kids and gain valuable experience by coaching for the youth soccer program. All six of the students had also played soccer within EGSA in the past and felt the need to give back to the organization that had provided them with memorable and valuable experiences as children. 

“I decided to get involved in the EGSA youth coaching program this year not only to gain volunteer hours and experience, but to give back to my community; in particular the EGSA that has been such an essential part of my childhood,” said Raissi, a student at The Wheeler School. “My experience with this coaching program has been wonderful, not only have I gained confidence but I have learned from my own players that I have coached. I have learned to maintain calm, patient, and to have confidence in myself no matter what happens. This experience has been great and I hope to do it again for the next 3 years of my high school career.” 

“Two things that I love are soccer and working with kids, so coaching youth soccer was perfect for me,” said Murphy, an eighth grader at Archie Cole Middle School. “I was eager to help kids develop a passion for soccer like I have while giving back to the community.”

“I loved interacting with my team during clinics and games,” Murphy continued. “It was amazing to see my players’ progress and the growing love for the game, to score and to have fun. I have gained the importance of giving back to the community while simultaneously helping kids have fun. I will definitely return to coaching because it has meant so much to me and I really enjoyed it.” 

Now, with the season wrapping up, the students are reflecting on a season of fun and growth and looking forward to coming back next year. The last games of the EGSA season will be played on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20.

“It’s been so great for the program and these kids,” concluded Esper. “They’re setting a wonderful precedent for the community, our organization and themselves.”  

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