The chance to play at a professional stadium is something many athletes dream about. This recently became a reality for Escamilla Intermediate School students.
Sean Brennan with Neighborhood Centers Inc. has been working with the campus. The organization invited Escamilla to play against the Harbach-Ripley Neighborhood Centers’ Inc. after-school soccer team. But it wouldn’t be an ordinary field. They took part in the Houston Dynamo Field of Dreams event.
The experience, made possible by the Houston Dynamo and Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI), gave the Escamilla athletes an evening to remember. They got to experience the life of a professional soccer player.
The Escamilla Bulldogs got to be members of the Houston Dynamo for an evening. After meeting members of the Houston Dynamo organization, participants dressed in personalized uniforms. They got to talk strategy with a Dynamo player.
After hearing the game plan, the players entered the field through the Dynamo tunnel. Houston Dynamo treated the young athletes like the soccer stars. As they made their entrance, Houston Dynamo provided video board introductions and music.
The Bulldogs and the NCI teams played a game consisting of two 30-minute halves. Just like in a professional match, the teams received a coaching session. They also got treated to a halftime show.
Parents and campus staff were able to watch the game for free from the stands.
According to Suzanna García, the students were over the moon with excitement. García is the instructional technology specialist (iTech) at the campus. She is also the intramural soccer coach. García has played soccer all her life. She played at the University of St. Thomas. She started coaching a few years back at Stehlik Intermediate School. It was for a CASE grant after-school program. When García became the iTech at Escamilla, she wanted to bring the sports program there.
“I saw how much team sports help give the kids a means of accountability,” said García. “Sports give some of the kiddos a motivation to behave in class and work to stay on the team.”
This is the second year the intramural soccer team has existed at Escamilla. Neighborhood Centers Inc. helped the campus create the team last year.
García has been coaching the team since last year. The Bulldogs took first place in the fall and spring intramural tournaments. This year, the team has been fighting hard against the other intermediate school teams. They include Reed, Stehlik, Wilson, Rayford, Parker and Marcella. This year, the Bulldogs have only had three losses. The Bulldogs fell in the semifinals round in November at the Fall Intramural Tournament. García stated the team is looking forward to redemption. The Bulldogs have play at the Stehlik Tournament on Saturday, December 10. The team has a few more tournaments scheduled in the spring.
“Parent support has been great,” says García. “The parents recognize that the students are held to a higher standard when it comes to schoolwork and good sportsmanship. We always have a great cheering squad of friends and family!
“The parents that attended the Field of Dreams event had a great time. They kept telling me how their kids would not stop talking about the event. It was so special for the kids to play in the stadium and get treated like they were a professional team. I loved watching the look on the kids’ faces. Especially when they realized that the tall guy coaching them was a Dynamo player. I told them before the event that a Dynamo player would be coaching them. But it didn’t register until they saw the players behind the autograph table!”
Just read what Amador Contreras, Adrián Ortega and José Delgado have to say about their experience.
“It was really exciting to go and play on the stadium field,” said Amador. “It was cool hearing the stadium announcer call your name. It was just like a real game. And we got to see our names on the big sign (marquee).”
Adrian agreed with Amador.
José added that he liked meeting the Dynamo players and the free orange jersey they received.
“It was cool that the players worked with and signed the jersey,” said José.
García added that the Escamilla team won the game with a strong lead in the number of goals the players scored.
“I can’t even describe the extent of their excitement when they heard they would have this chance. That only grew once we were at the BVVA Stadium, met the Houston Dynamos and Diesel. Everyone at Escamilla Intermediate is grateful to Neighborhood Centers Inc. and the Houston Dynamos for the incredible experience they gave our kids.”
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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