“Beyond the Goal”
Article by Mitchell Dull, class of 2013
The week prior to our Top Soccer training session, many of the younger players on the team were curious about what the event was going the be like, and honestly, I couldn’t really give them an accurate answer. This was my third year participating in the event, as it is an annual staple to the Kellenberg Memorial Boys’ Varsity Soccer team schedule, but every year, the volunteers always get something a little bit different. The New Hyde Park Wildcats Top Soccer Program is a league for children with mental and physical disabilities to join soccer teams and enjoy the beautiful game like the rest of the world. To everyone there, it is painstakingly clear that these children love to be out there with soccer balls at their feet and smiles on their faces. Mr. Bursig of the Kellenberg Memorial faculty and Latin School soccer coach has helped run this program since he was in high school and continues to do so today. He has asked members of the team to help at this event, and the team plans a Saturday to do so each year in Kellenberg’s spirit of community service and, “One Heart, One Mind.”
In every year prior, the Kellenberg Memorial Boys’ Varsity Soccer team has helped out with the annual Top Soccer Tournament which pits the teams from different towns against each other in a day of fun, camaraderie, and competition. The Kellenberg players would undergo a brief role reversal for the day and act as referees, while volunteer coaches always make sure that the kids on their team had a fun time, and maybe even win some games. The ages of the boys and girls that participate range from around five to twenty-five, so naturally the age groups need to be split up. It is certainly a different experience working with each group. The younger group provides a carefree atmosphere where everyone is just there to learn how to play and have fun. The older group is much different because some of the players are quite competitive and want to win.
This year, instead of refereeing, the team actually got the chance to train with the players, which was beyond fun. We were involved in the drills, which included us passing balls to the players to score free shots on our goalie. We even got to scrimmage them, which was the most exciting event the team has ever done in training. The children’s faces would light up whenever they got past a Kelleberg player, and their eye would be filled with pure joy whenever they scored a goal.
If there were one word that would sum up helping at this event, it would be rewarding! It gives the team an opportunity to share their many blessings, athletically and spiritually, with the surrounding community. Kellenberg offers a countless number of services activities through the school, and service is deeply engrained in the education the school provides. All of these activities, from visiting people at the Bristal Assisted Living centers through C.R.O.S.S., to teaching religious education through P.R.E.P., to helping at school events as a member of S.A.L.T., are rewarding because the volunteer knows he or she is lending a hand, but there is something about Top Soccer that makes helping out there even more fulfilling. It is probably because besides my faith, my true love is soccer, and in this event I am able to display my service through this amazing sport. It makes me think of St. James who said, “Faith without works is dead.” I am able to be the “hands of Christ” in the world while kicking a soccer ball and seeing a child’s face light up!
Opportunities like this one are found in everything at Kellenberg Memorial, even the sports. Without learning the importance of service through the Marianist Tradition, I do not know where I would seek fulfillment in my life. I suppose when the juniors asked me what the event was going to be like, I knew all along. It’s an event that they and I will remember for the rest of our lives, and it is something that will provide a certain kind of spiritual nourishment that cannot be found anywhere else.