On an early Saturday morning, Green Dot middle school and high school students laced up their cleats for the Ánimo Cup,a intramural soccer tournament for teams in our network. This experience was more than just a soccer game--it was an opportunity for Green Dot students to showcase their growth as athletes, connect with other Green Dot students, and demonstrate their determination. Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School won the middle school division, while Ánimo Leadership Charter High School took the high school division.
Sports for All
Though physical fitness is a component of our typical academic day and our after school programs, we wanted to ensure that all Green Dot students had the opportunity to participate in intramural sports regardless of their household incomes. Edison Palacios, our After School Programs Associate, and David Nunez, our Coordinator of After School and Student Mentor Programs, organized the teams.
Due to the high costs of registration fees, club dues, uniforms, equipment, and travel costs, sports and athletics can be difficult to access for the students and families we serve.In a study about the costs of playing sports, Utah State University reported that parents with children in sports allocate between three and 12 percent of gross (pre-tax) household annual income to their children’s youth sports participation. In communities where a high percentage of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, those costs are not feasible.
A sports education teaches students to not only maintain their physical health and build their communication skills, but also reinforce habits of discipline and willpower. “Communication and collaboration is very important in creating strong team bonds,” said Jose Gudino, Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School Soccer Coach and arc program leader. “I have made it clear from the start that this is a learning experience for both the players and the coaches.”
At Green Dot, we believe that a student’s household income should not prevent them from participating in opportunities that benefit their academic, emotional, and physical development. Because of funding through the state-sponsored After School Education and Safety (ASES) program, we are able to offer these additional academic and extracurricular opportunities at no cost to our families. This year, we’ve also been able to host free cross-network basketball and football tournaments, showing students that their schools are not only invested in their academic pursuits, but also their extracurricular interests too.
Collaboration is Key
The Ánimo Cup took place at Goals Soccer Center, where some of the most popular professional accredited teams play. For Palicos, it was important that the Ánimo Cup expose students to communities outside their own and provide an authentic tournament experience.“Providing intramural sports that are outside the realm of the school day, and making it a free large-scale event where students can invite their families and friends really embodies Green Dot’s values--we’re a family,” said Palacios. This school year, Palicos and Nunez have collaborated with our after school partners arc and the Boys and Girls Club to host a series of all sports tournaments, with the Ánimo Cup being this year’s closing event.
Green Dot also works with these partner organizations to provide academic support in areas like homework assistance and tutoring. The programs support students academically while also providing enrichment opportunities in the arts, life skills, healthy choices, leadership development, and physical fitness. We couldn’t provide these without the assistance of our partner organizations or the state’s funding; their presence has become an important presence on our campuses and in our communities. Together, we work hard to prepare each graduate with the life and leadership skills needed to succeed on and off the field.