Senior defender Tom Scully remembers playing board games with his grandmother every time she visited their house. Now, along with the rest of the members of the varsity soccer team, Tom had a chance to pay it forward.
Several of the Lions joined with from more than 200 other players from teams across Chicago and the suburbs last weekend as part of a one-day service project in advance of the PepsiCo Showdown. The project took place on National Senior Citizen Day, and the overarching theme was “Making a difference—on and off the field.”
To participate, each player was encouraged to bring a gently used board game and contribute $1 to Buddy’s Helpers, the charitable arm of the soccer tournament. On Wednesday, those board games and the proceeds raised were donated to various senior citizens’ facilities, along with notes written by the players.
Both Tom and goalie, Kyle Borst, brought the game of Life to the event, while their teammates brought games of checkers and chess, as well as Clue.
“It was just a good chance to give back to the community and help senior citizens,” Kyle said. “I always remember playing board games with my grandparents.”
Coach T.J. King said his players learned a number of life lessons through participating in the project.
“We spend a lot of time conditioning, weight training, at summer camp, scouting, watching film as we prepare for the season, which make a huge difference in our on-field performance,” Coach King says. “But it’s equally as important that these players understand that putting in effort to make a difference off the field is just as important.”
All of the players from the different teams wore their uniforms for the service day, but working together to help seniors seemed to overcome any rivalries.
“It was good to talk to other players,” Kyle added. “We talked about the season coming up, but there was no competitiveness.”
Instead, they found common ground in their love of the game and in serving others. They’ll bring their game soon enough. The PepsiCo Showdown—one of the largest high school tournaments in the country—opens Sept. 10. Brackets and seeding will be revealed Sept. 5.