The impact of gang violence, drugs, and lack of job opportunities continues to negatively impact neighborhoods across the South Side of Chicago. Statistics tell us a painful and scary reality-- our students live in a community that not only lack financial resources, but also has homicide rates that are ten times higher than other parts of the city.
In a constant fight or flight mode, students at our school try to make sense of a world that seems to be indifferent about their feelings, hopes and dreams. Disconnected and hopeless, they become an easy target for criminal organizations to recruit them and, ironically, provide them with a sense of belonging.
In this context, at Catalyst Maria we believe that a competitive High School soccer program that sets the bar high on and off the soccer field while serving as a welcoming place where students can freely express their desires, hopes and dreams, makes sense. Una familia. In turn, we expect our scholars to make an impact on the soccer field and compete for the college soccer scholarships offered across the country.
And that's what we are doing--- we started organizing the players and their parents back in June. Training started in July. Players and parents showed up every time. As a consequence, we have 18 members in our team that have been competing in the CPS tournament since August 27th.
The excitement, commitment and joy is evident. The students love being part of a team, having a family. They are as committed as their live circumstances allow them to be. At Catalyst, we are building a space where our students feel important and valued, while spending their time doing what they love most: play soccer.
Unfortunately -due to many needs the school has outside of athletics- our program's budget this year just covered the cost of renting the fields and the bus to get to games, but we are in need of everything else: balls, pinnies, jerseys, shorts, cones, poles, cleats, etc.
(Note: During this season, it has become more evident that in order to focus academically and perform on the soccer field without suffering constant injuries, it is necessary to provide a strong, balanced nutrition plan. Part of the funds we raise we will spend on vitamins, supplements, granola and protein bars, etc. )
I am hoping that there are others out there that care about these group of kids -their present and their futures- and want to make a contribution to our Catalyst Soccer family. Any amount of support is welcomed and will make a difference.
Your kindness and generosity is very much appreciated.
Thank you so much in advance,
Jose M. Burgos Soccer Head Coach & Spanish Teacher Catalyst Maria High School 6727 South California Ave, Chicago, IL 6062