Lisa Bishop started coaching the CYA Titans when they were pint-sized and grew them into the girls who graduated high school this fall. So how do you say goodbye to girls who have been family for nearly a decade? You take them on a service trip to Costa Rica where they have an experience that will change their lives.
Lisa got the idea for the trip from Chloe, one of her players, who had gone on a trip with an organization called Rustic Pathways each of the last 3 summers. The Titans raised about $4600 through yard sales and team-supported fund raisers to help pay for the trip. All of the 18 team members contributed to the effort even though only 9 players were able to go. The girls traveled to Turrialba over Spring break last April to tour, play soccer and see Costa Rica.
The guides from Rustic Pathways knew about a soccer club called Los Onze (the 11) set up by Enrique Salazar Diaz. The Titans would spend 3-6 hours each day playing soccer and running a camp for these kids. The girls loved these kids and the kids loved them. Just check out the pictures.
While all of the trip was great, what was astounding was something the girls, their guides, chaperone and coach didn’t count on. A visit to the homes of two of the boys who had come to the camp. The girls couldn’t believe their living conditions. They pooled all the spending money they brought for the trip to help out these families.
“That money took Jean Paul’s family from a dirt floor shack to a real house and paid their rent for 4 months. Plus, it paid the entry fee for the U11 and U13 team into the National tournament which,” Lisa says, “Los Onze is winning right now, and four of the U13 boys are being evaluated for the national team.”
Lisa remembers the trip to Jean Paul’s house when the Titans brought groceries. “There was not a dry eye in the room, coaches, kids, guides, family.”
So how has this changed the girls? They started a non-profit organization through the Rustic Pathways foundation to support Enrique’s Kids. Since the girls are no longer fund-raising for their team, their projects support those boys and the many more that might be helped thanks to their generosity. The girls connect regularly with Enrique and his kids on facebook and are making photo books and bracelets to send back. There is even a return trip in the works for this December.
“The Titans are an exceptional group of young women,” Lisa says, “They love each other and are so excited to see one another at Thanksgiving and Christmas.” They still stay connected and seek each others’ advice from their respective college campuses. (All are in college except one who took a gap year and is teaching English in Peru right now.
Lisa is helping them connect over the Thanksgiving break and has rented field space for them on Black Friday. Soccer, after all, is their common language. There is a gift exchange/party planned for December.
Lisa talks about these girls as her family. Her oldest daughter does play for the team. She says the one thing she is most proud of is that the team added new kids to ‘our family’ very easily. “We had one girl join us for our very last season and she said she felt so connected right away and wished she had found us earlier.”
“Many of these girls played travel soccer and stopped because of the pressure, teams folding, etc. Those kids love the game and want to be pushed. There was another set of kids who loved the team but were not talented players. They came to practice sometimes and worked hard. As a group they were a great team – working hard for each other.”
She laughs and says one mother said her daughter doesn’t even like soccer. But she loves the Titans.
Now that’s coaching!
Ever the coach, Lisa wanted me to know that the Titans came in second place in the Suburban Friendship League last season and were the only undefeated team, evidence that if you do the right thing with the kids, the soccer is really good, too!
Lisa still gets together monthly with the moms from the team. “They tell me thank you for setting up this team, creating the environment, helping them find such great friends for life, helping them develop or maintain their love for the game.”
She says, “All I keep thinking is I am the lucky one. I love these kids, I love my team and the friends I have found because of it and I am so fortunate to have had this amazing experience in my life.”
All I’ll say is, they are lucky to have had you in their life, Lisa.
To learn more about Enriques kids or make a donation inquire at:
Enrique’s Kids, PO Box 445, Willoughby, OH 44096