EDITOR’S NOTE: this was so passionate and such an interesting service idea, we decided to run the whole story, in the words of the coach who wrote it, in hopes that maybe others would seize upon this initiative.
By Coach Tate MacQueen, head soccer coach
Charles D. Owen High School, Black Mountain
It is imperative that part of the work we do and role we have as coaches is to impart on our players that they can be great leaders through simple acts of kindness, generosity and respect.
Coach Terry Hughes at Asheville Christian Academy and I are excited to be establishing a partnership to create the annual Sourwood Community Shield, to promote healthy competition built around a service component for both our teams to share in by advocating for the Buncombe County Special Olympics Soccer Program.
Our teams will be playing for the Sourwood Bowl, which literally is a shallow bowl made by local artisan Dave Ogren. The bowl will go to the winning team and with it comes the responsibility of using the Bowl in the Spirit of Soccer, to pass around at every home match toraise much needed funding for Buncumbe County Special Olympics Soccer.
All over the state, Special Olympics is supported entirely by donations and it is critical to assist where we can across all of North Carolina. For us, the assistance will literally come from the Sourwood Bowl. The “trophy” gets passed around and it gets to be a utilitarian instrument that allows participation to develop relations with those that face certain life challenges. It allows the community to interact with the actual “trophy” and be apart of it, not apart from it. In the end, everyone wins.
At the conclusion of the season the monies will be presented to the Buncombe County Special Olympics. The really uplifting element to this is that it goes further than raising money alone; we will raise awareness and develop relationships because the coaching staffs and players from Asheville Christian Academy and Charles D. Owen will come together to host a soccer clinic with the Special Olympics soccer participants to teach skills and techniques.
The high school players will team up in partnerships between our schools to act as thecoaches. This will allow us to foster a healthy relationship between the two schools and it will allow these players to form new friendships in service to the greater community. This year we will host the clinic in advance of the Special Olympic State Games. The clinic will fall between the end of the regular season and the start of the state tournament.
The clinic will culminate with the Special Olympic players playing games on the Warhorse Stadium field, and this will allow these players to experience what many high school athletes might come to take for granted—to play the game under the lights in a stadium setting. On our senior night, we will be escorted out to the field for player introductions with each of our players paired with a player from the Special Olympics and at halftime theywill have a chance to play in front on all of our fans, and this will undoubtedly win new fans for these passionate players from Special Olympics.
Personally, my high school soccer coach, Billy Thomas at Fayetteville Academy, organized an event for us to participate in with Cumberland County Special Olympics at the height of our success. We were two-time state champions and we were given the gift of expressing that we were humble through an exercise of humility. I never forgot that lesson and countless more that a great coach, friend and man instilled in us. Now, Owen High School has reached the number one ranking for 2A soccer for the first time in school history, and we too will embrace the concept of understanding how fortunate we are and celebrate in the Spirit of Soccer with fellow players on a unique level.
Unlike many charitable projects that are single events, this has the ability to take on a life of its own through inspiring other schools across the state to establish similar relationships with cross town / cross section rivals. This endeavor can be customized andindividualized in terms of the type of “trophy” that is played for and used in collecting season long donations. Another example of how this can expand is that Charles D. Owen and Asheville Christian Academy will play in the following seasons a home and away series using aggregate scoring like in European competitions to determine the Bowl winner.
Additionally, we will host a season opening Friday / Saturday double header with Owen playing Asheville Christian Academy in one game and having another two schools play Friday night. The next day Owen and Asheville Christian Academy will each face one of the other two schools. We are going to reach out to a private school like Carolina Day School and another public school like Hendersonville High School. Hopefully, each participating school will help spread the seeds of service to their area and this can catch on across the state throughout high school soccer to support the Special Olympics.
The opportunities are endless and the impact is immeasurable; it simply comes down to effort and celebrating our role as coaches being educators in life.
For more information feel free to contact Coach Tate MacQueen at Charles D. Owen High School at (828) 319-9052