Bulldogs Help New Haven Kids Say YES To Soccer

Bulldogs Help New Haven Kids Say YES To Soccer

Coxe Starts Program To Help Mentor Children At New Haven Boys & Girls Club

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Frannie Coxe has fond memories of playing indoor soccer as a child at the Boys and Girls Club in San Clemente, Calif. Now a freshman at Yale, she is sharing her passion for the game with youngsters in New Haven. With the help of her women's soccer teammates, Coxe founded Say YES to Soccer (Yale Excellence is Sports).

Each Thursday this spring, Coxe and other members of the team have visited the New Haven Boys & Girls Club to coach and assist with the indoor soccer program.

"I wanted to reach out to the kids in New Haven in an easy and meaningful way that was also fun and involved soccer," Coxe said. "The purpose is to mentor kids through the game of soccer by promoting fair play and team work. It's really all about sharing the fun and love we have for the sport with the kids. We talk with them about their families and friends too and what's going on in the hopes that we can be their mentors."

Coxe was aware that Yale students volunteer at the club so she approached Sports Director Tharon Mayes with her idea. Coxe then discussed it with Yale coach Rudy Meredith and the rest of the team, and Say YES To Soccer was born.

"I've seen how little it takes to make a big difference in a child's life," Coxe said "I've learned that we are role models to them and they look up to us as athletes and university students. I've also seen the heart and kindness of my teammates as they work and play with the kids."

Each week, the Yale players taught fitness and skill drills and had the kids play games. Mostly, though, it was just about having fun.

"When we walk into the gymnasium, all of the kids rush up to us and jump on us, screaming `Yay! It's soccer day.' It really shows us how much we mean to them and how we brighten their week by giving an hour of our day to play with them," Coxe said.

Coxe hopes Say YES To Soccer can expand in the future. Anne Song, one of the players active in the program, is hoping to start a camp while she is here for the summer. Coxe would like to see the children serve as ball kids at Yale's home games next fall.

"I want the kids to come to our field and Payne Whitney Gym to be exposed to this amazing university. If we can inspire them to dream big, to go to college, maybe play soccer, that would be a dream come true," Coxe said. "I also hope to include academic support such as one-on-one tutoring and individualized homework help."

The first session wrapped up last week with a pizza party. Judging from the response, it would seem the program was quite a success.

"The kids were so appreciative and thanked us," Coxe said, "when all we wanted to do was thank them for the chance to spend time with them."

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity