Memphis HappyFeet Soccer is a youth soccer program that uses a “Story Time with a Soccer Ball” approach to provide an amazing fitness program for boys and girls ages 2-5 in local preschools, daycares, and more! Our curriculum is age-appropriate and designed to captivate the imagination of our youth soccer stars and empower them to learn some of the most challenging skills in soccer…fearlessly. Our program offers more than just soccer, it helps build social skills and improves self-confidence, instilling a brave and creative go for it mentality, focusing on BIG IDEAS such as optimism, respect, overcoming obstacles and fear, teamwork, and more!
HappyFeet chose to work with Agape North for two very simple reasons; 1) We love our City - and choosing a local apparel provider that we share many values with is huge. 2) Working together to impact the lives of our youth through donating t-shirts and soccer was a no-brainer. What I love most about Agape North was how quickly they became our family. When you whole-heartedly believe in what you do, which is to truly help others, then good will always come when we come together to serve!
For our Agape North donation event, we paired up with Porter-Leath Preschool Program, since this is the age we typically serve with our soccer skills program. Agape North always takes the client to the school to present the donated shirts and spend time with the students, so for our visit we were able to bring what we always do to the table along with the shirts...SOCCER!
I have been coaching for 12 years now and one of my biggest joys as a coach are the type of sessions where you know the majority of children have never played or seen soccer before. For some coaches, that can be a challenging task, because as children become older they become more and more set in their ways and are far removed from natural and proper soccer development. I did not know exactly what to expect, all I knew was that I’d be introducing soccer to a school of children. The expression, “You had me at hello” was real at Porter-Leath. Ms. Brenda and her staff did not just greet us with a handshake and a hello, she greeted my staff and I with a BIG SMILE, an ENORMOUS HUG, and broke out to a dance. Though that is similar to how we break the ice with children in the HappyFeet program, to be on the receiving end of it was contagious as we were all smiles and immediately felt at home!
The moment the teachers brought the children out to us, the first thing we noticed on the kids in the distance was all the wide eyes and huge grins! Every single child (over 50!) wanted to play! Our idea of the clinic was to go over the basics using the very unique HappyFeet curriculum to engage them in a great adventure with the soccer ball at our feet. For the first time in my career as a youth soccer coach, we had all 50 children engaged, participating, and having fun. Of course, there will always be children who will decide today’s not the day they want to play, but at Porter- Leath, these children knew they were up to something new, fun, and AMAZING. We had a BLAST! We even got Ms. Brenda to play soccer with us! We did not want the session to end. It was amazing to watch each child’s confidence grow in such a short time as we complimented every single kid for trying and gave hundreds of high fives!
My first impression of Porter-Leath was being introduced by Rob Hughes at their main location. I was taken aback from his hospitality, touring the beautiful facility, and every member of the staff I met I knew was special. I could not wait for our donation day at "The Pike" location. After that, I could not stop talking about our experience. I immediately felt apart of the Porter-Leath family. I never knew I would have so much in common with Ms. Brenda, on the outside we are two very different people at different ages and stages in our career, but our passion for youth development, parent education, and PLAY was an amazing connection we made! I’m pretty sure we both offered each other jobs!
The most amazing thing I took from this donation experience at Porter-Leath is how similar our programs are in that our sole purpose is to impact the lives of children and families. It is so important to offer as many positive experiences to children as possible, because positive experience builds character and confidence, which can only make the world a better place.