Some of the Cougars eager to take part in the reading and mentoring program include Daud Aboud, back left, Gabriel Gaiotto, Bernardo Lima, Jack Doyle, Amelia Landry, front left, Brooklyn Pawelek, Shingi Masoha, Jordan Brown, Emmanuel Ferriello, Lucas Lema and assistant coach Thomas Valdez. Photo by Ashley Grogan

Soccer Cougars contribute to community

With winter sports coming to an end and spring fever in the air, the Lassen College soccer program has decided to give back to the community via a mentoring program at Meadow View School.

Students enrolled at Meadow View School are between grades three and five, and the soccer program could not have chosen a more welcoming environment for their service.

Every Tuesday morning, 10-15 Cougar soccer players visit the school to assist students with homework and reading.

Lassen College started the program mid-February of 2017 and intends to make it a permanent addition to the soccer program.

Assistant coach Thomas Valdez said that the program started because the players were interested in becoming more involved with the Lassen County community.

According to head coach George Kee, the Cougar soccer teams wanted to give back to Susanville.

Kee said, “The community has welcomed my players with open arms and helped in so many ways that the soccer program is in constant search for ways to give back and show our appreciation.”

Regarding the reading aspect of the program, the players read alongside the children in order to improve focus, reading speed and reading comprehension.

Cougar player Brooklyn Pawelek said when it comes to volunteering at Meadow View, it makes her feel good knowing she is helping children get closer to their future goals.

In addition, the Cougars serve as role models, mentors and friendly faces for the children.

The Cougars use the Tuesday morning program to get on the same level as the students and show them that the road to success does not have to be one of solitude.

One Cougar commented that in addition to establishing a sort of partnership with the youth of Lassen County, he felt like his presence at the school allowed the students to view him as a comrade.

Said Cougar expressed his happiness that Meadow View students could use him as a liaison or an outlet when connecting with other adults is more challenging.

Another soccer player commented that one of the children he has been working with has seen improvements in his class concentration. After working closely with the Cougar, the student has lessened his disruptive tendencies.

The Lassen player in question credits the improvement to the child’s ability to work with someone new who pays close attention to his focus and academic needs

Teachers and staff at Meadow View continually made comments regarding how much the students love when the team visits. In fact, it is not uncommon for the children to ask the players for autographs to commemorate the occasion.

In addition to helping the middle school students, the mentoring program helps the soccer players.

The team explained that as they are seen in the local area more and are becoming more involved, they are also promoting the county to attend their soccer games in the fall. The greater the attendance on the field, the higher the morale is for the Cougar team.

In addition, one player explained that the children are helping the Cougars individually.

With the program, many Lassen students have been able to build their confidence with public speaking.

While there are many different voices an individual uses on a daily basis, some of the Cougars haven’t had multitudinous opportunities to practice speaking with younger community members. The reading/ mentoring program has given the Cougars that opportunity to grow.

The players also see the program as an investment in their future. As the Cougars continue their studies and transfer to other schools when their time at Lassen comes to a close, they will be able to take the experience of community involvement with them.

The reading and mentoring program is an all-around win for the community. While the team’s main focus is Meadow View School at the moment, once schedules and details are further established, the team is looking to expand their impact on more schools in the area.