The Power of Asking 'What If?'
I didn’t grow up playing soccer. In our neighborhood, soccer balls were mostly used as improvised basketballs when all the kids showed up to play in the driveway. So, it was with more than a little anxiety that I said 'yes' when my then five-year-old daughter’s soccer team needed a coach.
Several years and hundreds of snacks and juice boxes later, coaching her team has become one of my real joys. While I hope the girls have learned a little about soccer, it isn’t goals or wins that have made this a rewarding experience. The real wins are connecting with other parents who, like us, navigate the Tomar Park traffic to get to the game, the moments when the girls are distracted from the game by the new friends they've made on the team, or the great play made by the girl who was too timid to get out of her parents’ car early in the season. These are the moments that have made our family’s experience with soccer memorable.
But for many in our community, these opportunities don’t come as easily.
In our last newsletter, we featured a story on the Riverside Soccer League, an effort by volunteers to provide kids at Laura B. Anderson Elementary the chance to learn and play organized soccer.
For my family, the biggest challenge of soccer season is juggling schedules to make sure everyone can get to where they need to be on time. But the families in the Riverside neighborhood are juggling far more than just schedules. Many of these families are working hard just to make ends meet, which often means there isn't time or money to make extracurricular activities possible.
So the Riverside Soccer League aimed to make it easy for kids and families to participate. Staffed by volunteers and completely free for students, it ran for 10 Saturdays last fall at a city park in the heart of the neighborhood. Kids loved it and teachers saw the impact during each school day. But more than that, the effort did something else — it brought families in the neighborhood together. It created connections, strengthened bonds and helped build community.
Seeing kids and families experience joy is contagious — which is why the momentum is only growing.
This spring, Sioux Falls Neighborhood Soccer launched as an effort to add three additional soccer leagues at city parks, with the hope to someday expand to all Title 1 school neighborhoods. It’s being accomplished by a great collaboration of groups – the Promising Futures Fund, the Sioux Falls School District, Feeding South Dakota, Sioux Falls Thrive, Boys & Girls Club of the Sioux Empire, business sponsors, the City of Sioux Falls, area churches, Dakota Alliance Soccer, Sioux Falls Soccer Academy, and others are all working together to help more kids and families in our community experience the joy of playing a sport, of belonging to a team and of building meaningful connections amid a city that gets bigger and bigger every day.
We are honored to have played a small role in this story — a story that, I think, is a great illustration of what can happen when people step forward and say “What if?”
If you have ideas you’re thinking about that start with “What if,” call us. We’d love to dream with you about how to make our community an even better place.