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Soccer Stars, How DASC Brings Soccer to Everyone
by Natalie Ferris
Dakota Alliance Soccer Club's (DASC) Soccer Stars program truly shows that DASC is "more than a club." I observed that over the six-week session that focuses on building friendships and basic soccer skills. Soccer Stars is an adaptive and inclusive soccer program for kids aged 3 to 12 who may not have traditional soccer outlets. It is the only adaptive soccer program in South Dakota. When I attended Soccer Stars for my internship, I saw everyone wanted to create a non-competitive, inclusive environment which focuses on the kids.
The DASC program is overseen by Jud Conner and Ryan Beier and has become a successful program with the help of many energetic and friendly volunteer coaches. While interning at DASC, I was invited to help livestream and take pictures for their Facebook page. I did not know what to expect when I got to the DASC turf room the first day I was asked to help.
When I got there, I was overcome by the level of encouragement, inclusivity, and joy that was radiating from the athletes, coaches, and parents. Throughout the forty-five-minute session, the athletes were all active and I could see that they were enjoying themselves while making new friends. The friendships the kids build at Soccer Stars help them feel more comfortable and enables them to feel accepted.
A great example of accepting everyone was demonstrated during one of the sessions I attended, Jud wanted me to livestream all of the kids waving and saying hi to a former Soccer Star, Kaley. Kaley attended the first six-week session but could not attend the second one due to some severe health complications. Kaley’s mom was very happy to the support from not only the club but from the individuals in the Fall session of Soccer Stars. The Soccer Stars community wanted to make sure that she was still included and being thought about even though she was not there. This is one of the example of how Dakota Alliance Soccer Club builds a community.
During an interview Jud Conner said that there are big plans in the future for Soccer Stars. Aside from growing the program to reach more athletes, Jud mentioned that Soccer Stars wants to create a buddy program where each athlete would have their own coach or two athletes to a coach. He also mentioned that they have looked into being more involved with TOPSoccer and Special Olympics, which are focused on excelling athletes with disabilities. The Soccer Stars program is the start of something bigger and will hopefully be able to offer even more in the future.
Dakota Alliance Soccer Club prides itself on being more than a club. This means that they strive to provide soccer-related opportunities to the youth of Sioux Falls no matter their skill level. Soccer Stars encompasses this by giving the opportunity to those who do not have access to other forms of soccer in Sioux Falls. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to see the smiles on the faces of all of the athletes, coaches, and parents while they were at Soccer Stars.
While the six-week session may have come to a close, the memories and friendships will still be there. On the last day of the session, all of the athletes were awarded medals for their hard work. Being able to watch them receive their medals is something that I will always remember because they had accomplished so much and now had something to show for it. The sense of accomplishment is something that will stay with them forever.
Dakota Alliance Soccer Club
401 West 39th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Mobile Phone: 605-332-5911