Last year, Cecelia received an Off the Sideline scholarship that enabled her to play on a formal soccer team for the first time. She immediately took to the sport and is now playing on the HB Lee Middle School team where she is a sixth grader. For her birthday this year, staff at Volunteers of America gifted her with her first soccer ball.
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Stanley has been a member of the Volunteers of America Oregon community since 2013. He struggled academically, and attempts from multiple staff members to help motivate him to study and improve his failing grades were futile. In the Spring of 2016 when staff mentioned the Off the Sideline opportunity, Stanley jumped at the chance to finally start playing football. He always wanted to play on a team, but wasn’t aware of one he could play with. With the help of Off the Sideline, he registered to play with Jefferson Youth Football. The sports organization required that he maintain a ‘C’ average. This opportunity provided the exact incentive and support Stanley needed, and he is now receiving A’s and B’s, no C’s in sight. We’re proud of the effort Stanley has put forth.
// 'Plaza Park Boys' Basketball Team
When Dawitt wanted to start a basketball team with his friends at the Plaza Townhomes apartments, Off the Sideline provided scholarships for the entire team. Fellow resident, Abraham Fofanah, has known most of the boys since they were small and was happy to step in and coach. Their community has rallied behind them, with many adults and family members attending games when they can. The team has only lost one game this season, despite not having access to a basketball hoop to practice on. Since many of the team members, who are in grades 6 through 9, attend different schools and don’t have the opportunity to practice with the full team as often as they’d like. When they can, they play on a makeshift court using the apartment complex’s monkey bars as a basket. Off the Sideline is proud to work with Volunteers of America in sponsoring the Plaza Boys and strengthening the community. See the feature video from KPTV to learn more.
// Kelly Elementary School
When Bernadette Diepenbrock started teaching at Kelly Elementary School, she soon learned it was a special place with dedicated teachers and and a diverse student population. That inspired her to ask herself what she could do to contribute to the Lents-neighborhood school in a way that would most benefit the students and the community. The answer: basketball. She asked students if they were interested in playing basketball to sign up, and was excited when 15-25 students from each third, fourth, and fifth-grade class added their names to the list. Thanks to local businesses, teachers, friends and family – plus sponsorship for the fifth-grade girls and boys teams from Off the Sideline – Kelly now has six teams participating in the Portland Parks and Recreation League.
“Not only are the Kelly teams competing well in the League, they are so excited, daily, for this opportunity,” said Coach Diepenbrock. “Every morning I have 10-15 students greet me with a mention of practice, a game or something basketball related. Players are working hard, learning skills, strategies, how to win (and lose) graciously, and how to be good teammates to each other. Many new friendships have blossomed and our players are feeling good about themselves and the hard work they are putting into learning how to play this great game.”
Thanks for everything, my team won state cup and we're going to represent Oregon in regionals. All this would've never happened if it wasn't for your help.
// Tyler Brown
Off the Sideline Advisory Council member Tyler Brown knows first hand the benefit sports provide to kids. Growing up in Portland, he played sports at the local Boys and Girls Club until his family moved to Arkansas when he was 11. Without a similar program in Arkansas, he drifted away from sports, losing his sense of community and belonging in the process. This understanding of the key role sports play in youth development now inspires him every day in his recent role as the director of youth programs at the Regence Boys and Girls Club. And as a track and basketball coach, he understands that personal mentoring is equally important to athletic skills. Tyler also works to make sure the kids stay on track academically. He believes kids often see him as a neutral 'third party' they can confide in. "Coaching is my tool to help youth reach their goals. Every kid I coach won't play professional basketball, but the tools I give them will help them become professionals." Thank you, Tyler, for your dedication to Off the Sideline and to the youth of our community.