Miles is the first athlete I ever volunteered with. He's about 7, and when he writes his name on his nametag, sometimes the 's' doesn't fit, so he puts it at the front - 'Smiles.' He's very good at keeping track of the cones he knocks down, so if he does 24 one week, we'll make a goal of maybe 26 for the next week.
Most of this past semester, I've worked with Alan. He's about 14, and he also makes my nametag for me. Sometimes he makes me more than one, so I'll have "Caitlin" and "my friend."
Because some athletes have different needs and interests, the program is flexibile. So if someone wants to shoot goals on the sides or do other more independent work, they can. Miles and I often go for walks around the track. If I hadn't joined the program, I'd never have met someone like him. In the midst of all my studying, it's great to have time to just enjoy working with him.
During their time in the program, I get to watch students improve in how articulate they are, their focus, behavior. They get to be good at participating. Less important is their improvement in soccer skills! Watching and being a part of that transformation is one of the best experiences I've ever had.
Caitlin Koerber '07
English literature and chemistry and biology double minor
New Orleans, La.
Working with kids is something I have always loved to do and with the help of my Swarthmore education and opportunities such as TOPSoccer, it is something I hope to do for many years to come. I think the program provides a true example of how acts of caring and devotion to the lives of youth, regardless of ability level, can really make a huge difference.
Dan Abdul-Malak '09
Double major in psychology and math & education
I first got involved with the program my sophomore year after having watched many sessions the year before. All the volunteers have a great time playing around with the kids. Of course, the kids have lots of fun running around kicking soccer balls every which way. I think many of the students who volunteer their time find it particularly rewarding because the children so clearly exhibit their joy -- large grins and hearty chuckles are all over the place.
Patrick "Coach Pat" Christmas '08
Chapel Hill, NC
The most rewarding thing is developing a relationship with a child over a period of time and seeing how much it means to that child simply to give an hour of your time to play with him or her. The parents are also really appreciative of the volunteers, and it feels great to have such a positive effect on a family in the community! Not to mention in turn the positive effect seeing that family every week has on you!
Christine Duranza '08
French and Spanish
Chadds Ford, Pa.
A Summer Social Action Award from the Lang Center will provide me with a stipend so that I could pursue this goal. Elwyn is a local human services organization that works with disabled and disadvantaged individuals, and I will be spending a large portion of my summer working for Elwyn in their Summer Therapeutic Camp.
TOPS is an amazing program and is one of the most meaningful and important things I do here at Swarthmore.
Reina Chano '09
History and peace & conflict studies
TOPSoccer 2007 Video
TOPSoccer 2006 Video