We're 'Springing Forward' into Summer with More Play & More Kids Playing

June 6, 2023

Spring 2023 Newsletter

The past three months since our last newsletter recap have been bustling, with new families joining our programs daily. We remain grateful for our 3-year strategic plan with Highland Street for guiding our expanding program priorities & sustainability goals. We're refocused on engaging our alumni and advancing a signature part of our mission--when teens & young adults who've grown up with us step into leadership roles to meet growing demands. It ensures our staff represents our community and guarantees our leaders have great enthusiasm for our work. As we close another fiscal year this month and prepare for our 12th cohort of summer #CoachMentors, we remain grateful & motivated! Thanks for being part of this #teameffort!

Off-Season Futsal Reflection

Our busy futsal season meant kids accessing critical year-round sports pathways. Some highlights meant increasing playtime by 53% from 2022, connecting 233 youth of all ages, including engaging 98 new families! We also remain grateful to our Lawrence YWCA friends for the gym space so that in addition to all this play, we could continue our leadership through sports model with 20 Jr. Coaches & Coach Mentors leading activities with 90% from Lawrence.

Academic Overtime made its comeback!

It's part of our commitment to our signature off-the-field programs. Here’s a learning-in-action pic. Thanks to our Enrichment Coordinator, Will Inirio (former player & tutor), Merrimack College student tutors provide this extra academic support to our student-athletes, Monday- Thursday! One woman said, "because of Academic Overtime, my granddaughter made the honor roll for the first time!" We love this feedback and also look forward to providing summer tutoring for the first time!

551 youth registered for spring soccer

Here are players during their Saturday City-wide League matchups, a focus that grows daily. It's an integral part of Lawrence Youth Soccer, providing 3 days/week of play for kids as young as 4. Further, it's the epicenter of our Jr Coach Mentor model. So far, 18+ teens have taken to the field to instruct and give back. It is also part of the steps to be eligible for summer youth jobs!



Bringing Sports to Kids Where They Are! 

On Tuesdays & Thursdays, 5th-8th graders at the Arlington Middle School benefit from fast-paced futsal brought directly to them during their school day. The future of sports and a healthier Lawrence is ensuring that more effective pathways exist between the schools &andyouth-serving after-school sports groups and leagues so we can better tackle barriers that deter play, like cost and transportation. Today, 40+ Arlington youth are also now part of Lawrence Youth Soccer. More connecting ahead!

Here's the Gr. 8 Wolverines squad after their 5-3 ECYSA #win in April. Long-time #CoachMentor Melissa, who always goes #beyond for her players (mainly because she was a former player), said their solid team effort, especially their improved communication, motivated her to take them for a Benson's Homemade Ice Cream. Benson's liked the post so much that they shared it!

#GirlsInSports #OffTheField

Our #CoachMentors take the #beyond part of their work very seriously, especially when it comes to fun, #offthefield, team events like here, where the girls applied their creative sides & painted something memorable on canvas. Dinner and laughs, too, in the Health Kicks teaching kitchen in our gamechanging enrichment space. It’s team events like this that are most memorable!

Once again, DreamBig! has come through for our girls-in-sports priorities! After being encouraged by their #CoachMentors, a handful of players shared why they should be 1 of 100 girls selected for a $500 sports attire giveaway! Here's one of the awarded Grade 8 Wolverines during her Dream Big! Boston experience, picking out equipment and gear to help her reach her sports goals. It reminds us of the #teameffort for improving girls' sports pathways! Dream Big! & its founder, Linda Driscoll, have been great partners & friends since 2011.

We’re having more #FUNFridays, taking advantage of our enrichment space. Events like this #FIFAFriday where high schoolers played ping pong, organized by their #CoachMentors, with food & Xbox in the multi-function #BeyondFIT room, will become more frequent as we get closer to the out-of-school months. Those efforts will be driven by renewed DCR Summer Night’s Program support!


As this year's Women's World Cup draws near, we reflect on & thank Mia Hamm, a pioneering woman in sports who helped the U.S. win the inaugural World Cup in 1991. Her contributions to the sport, female empowerment, and our little engine that could nonprofit are immeasurable. She served as my early role model with this quote always resonating, "somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back...play for her." Although not playing anymore, I'm playing a different game to ensure quality sports are available to all who want to play and that more young girls fall in love with the game. The Mia Hamm Foundation has supported Beyond Soccer since its start with our pioneering girl's team, the Wolves. This picture (above), taken during Mia Hamm’s first season of support in 2013, still sits on my desk as a constant reminder and motivator.

As we enter another fiscal year (with another Women's World Cup!), we remain #beyond grateful to the Mia Hamm Foundation for continuing to believe in our mission so that more female teens & young adults like Melissa (below) mentor & lead the next generation of girls in our camps, on our teams & through our wrap-around programs. - Stephanie McArdle, Executive Director

We highlight a fantastic leader, Sr. #CoachMentor, and more, Melissa!

Melissa is responsible for the team bonding-paint night above, highlighting how she advances our mission by embracing the “beyond" part of our work that also meant so much to her as a middle schooler. As a quick history, Melissa joined our programs after immigrating from Guatemala 12 years ago with her family, including her brother, who is also part of Beyond. She first played for the Gr. 6 Bulldogs and never looked back, staying involved with us season after season as a player and eventually a jr. coach and summer coach mentor. After graduating from Lawrence High School’s Abbot Academy with honors and contributing to its girls’ varsity soccer team for four years (tennis, track & field, too!), she's a UMass Lowell junior studying biological sciences with a minor in nutrition and Spanish!

In addition to her full class schedule, she works for us as a full-time Sr. Coach Mentor, helping us organize, communicate, and lead our many on-and-off-the-field programs, like Beyond Fit-and-Balanced (#FAB), a program she helped launch in 2022 with a particular emphasis on her leadership role in a handful of girls' teams, most recently leading the Grade 8 Wolverines. The players and families couldn’t be happier. Next up is Melissa applying her nutrition education focus and redeveloping our Fuel-4-Performance curriculum! Again, it's our leadership-through-sports model in action.

We nominated Melissa for Billie Jean King’s Youth Leadership Award–I bet you get why & this summary doesn’t scratch the surface. 

Our current strategic plan is all about sustainability and excellence in continuing to develop and enhance our youth development through sports programs. It also means organizing a Board of Directors best positioned to advance these growing responsibilities. Long-standing Board President Paul “Lefty” Wennik now chairs our first Advisory Board, while Nina Leach has taken over the reins as Board President, thanks to Paul's introduction. Like Paul, she's All-In for the organization. Other new Board additions will be forthcoming.

Paul has gotten so many folks to care about the Beyond Soccer mission, year after year, from established funders and politicians to strangers he meets at his favorite breakfast establishment.

Paul’s relentless energy and positive impact on Beyond Soccer's growth & sustainability have been so significant that we feel the organization would not have advanced through its first decade without him.

Here's Paul with a group of summer campers, highlighting sports' unmatched, positive role in young people’s lives. Stay tuned as we establish something in Paul’s honor to benefit Beyond Soccer graduates.

It's a Big Surprise!

Report Card New Balance Raffles

No Hands #TeamBuilder


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Any donation made between now & August will offset the costs of our Summer Youth Jobs Program, which means at least 18 Lawrence youth & teens will receive training and wages to coordinate our summer activities for 500-600+ youth!

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