The Spalding University men's soccer team has teamed up with the ESL Newcomer Academy, getting involved with the academy this spring semester. The ESL Newcomer Academy is a Jefferson County public school that focuses on helping newly arrived immigrants learn English and acclimate to life in the U.S.
Freshman defender Jacob Kirby (Perrysburg, OH) is serving his first season as the assistant coach for the ESL Newcomer Academy team. The YMCA sponsors the team, and having integrated himself into the group of students over the last two months, Kirby is enjoying his experience of coaching, mentoring, and serving as a role-model for the young adults.
I have always wanted to coach soccer, so when the opportunity came, I jumped at it," Kirby commented. "It is extra special coaching at Newcomer because I am exposed to many new cultures and some very talented players. It is often hard to communicate with the players, but that is what's so great about soccer-- it's universal!" he finished.
Meanwhile, Head Coach Adam Boyer paid a visit to the students for the second straight year, hosting an hour-long lecture. Boyer discussed the importance of education, opportunities for college degrees, personal development, and goal-setting during his time with the students. Further, he referenced the long list of past and present Spalding players who have come from similar backgrounds.
"One of the best parts of working at Spalding is the opportunity to coach players from all types of backgrounds," Boyer remarked. "We have several players that have come through our program that are immigrants and first-generation college students. These players can serve as great examples and role-models for the ESL Newcomer Academy students," he finished.
Most recently, midfielder Julio De Leon, who emigrated from Mexico, finished his stellar career at Spalding. The four-time All-SLIAC and two-time All-Region selection will graduate with a Business degree in 2017. Joining a list of several former Golden Eagles, current players Abdullahi Abdullahi (Kenya), Tenko Kono (Japan), Erfan Rezai (Iran), Cheikh Gueye (Senegal), and Abdikadir Hussein (Kenya) are all immigrants.
Katrina Deely, who serves as program director of the ESL Newcomer Academy, is a former Division III women's soccer player at Transylvania University, and is in her fourth year leading the organization forward. "Katrina has done a great job with the Academy and continues to seek involvement from our local colleges. We are happy to be involved and have the chance to give back to our community here in Louisville," Boyer stated.
While Kirby and his Newcomer Academy team are not eligible to play in the KHSAA sanctioned fall soccer season, they are gearing up for a spring full of matches against local club teams. After weeks of practicing indoors, Jacob is ready to get out and play 11v11.
"The boys are itching to get out and finally play some real games. We have been stuck kicking the balls in the hallways of the school and cannot wait to play outdoors," Jacob stated. "For many of these players, this is their first time ever playing on a real team. It is an amazing experience for me to watch them play and love the game. I admire each of the boys. Coming from a different country and not speaking the native language would be extremely difficult, but they are all troopers. I cannot wait to see what this season brings and the men these guys become," he finished.
For more information about the ESL Newcomer Academy, you can visit http://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/schools/Special/ESL.html and follow them on Twitter at @ESLnewcomer and on Facebook at "ESL Newcomer Academy – friends and alumni."
STORY COURTESY OF SPALDING UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE