Photo courtesy of America Scores Boston
The South End was abuzz with soccer enthusiasts of all ages to celebrate at the 2012 SCORES Celebration Thursday night with special guest, U.S. women’s national soccer team star Heather O’Reilly. Students, athletes and Boston public school supporters gathered at the high-energy gala at Cyclorama for a night of soccer activities, poetry performances and food from local restaurants.
The faces of Boston public school athletes lit up as they received pointers from O'Reilly in the kid's clinic that kicked off the event. The olympic gold champion enthusiastically assisted each player in shooting and passing drills and coached them in a scrimmage.
“I've been involved for close to seven years," O'Reilly said. "I fell in love with the program and its uniqueness. I was an education major in college so it sort of blended together everything I find important. When I heard America SCORES was [in Boston] I jumped at the opportunity to help.”
O'Reilly also spoke about competing in the London olympics, signed autographs and posed for photos.
O’Reilly, New England Revolution team President Brian Bilello and New England Revolution broadcaster Brad Feldman spoke about their love of America SCORES and the impact it’s making on students.
“It’s a great organization,” Bilello said. “The fact that they’re combining soccer and education is great. It’s made a lot of sense for a long time for the Revs to be involved.”
After the soccer events, Lael Watson, a fifth-grader at Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury, made a poetry performance.
“My poem ‘I Am’ is about where I’m from and who I am,” Watson said. “I’m nervous, but I have a lot of confidence. I’m really happy I was chosen.”
Coach Mark Salzillo was thrilled and grateful that SCORES invited the Orchard Garden School.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to meet professional soccer players and create the idea of soccer at a bigger level for them, because they’re all beginners,” Salzillo said.
The celebration was provided by America SCORES Boston, a non-profit organization dedicated to help urban youth attain life skills, literacy, and health through soccer.
“America SCORES is a very special organization because it gives kids the platform to believe in themselves,” O’Reilly said. “Keep it up America SCORES because you’re doing fantastic things.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Zolan Kanno-Youngs -- A former captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School football team and a current second-year Ujima Scholar at Northeastern University, Kanno-Youngs is the color commentator of the mens basketball team and a writer for Northeastern's campus newspaper, the Huntington News. He joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at KannoYoungs.Globe@gmail.com. Follow him on his Twitter @KannoYoungs.