PHILADELPHIA - For Penn women’s soccer coach Darren Ambrose and his staff, the education that the Quaker players earn on the field and in the classroom is only part of the experience.
For the spring term of the 2008-09 academic year, he issued a challenge to help the women expand their horizons beyond the campus borders.
“We challenged them to amass 200 hours as a team this semester, and they smashed it with 230 hours,” he said proudly recently. “They each took on various roles in different projects.
“I think the girls found it very rewarding to give back to various parts of our surrounding community,” he continued. “As a team, they did a great job of investing a part of their week into something that would makea difference.”
According to Ambrose, a number of the women volunteered at a local soup kitchen on Sunday afternoons, and quite a few spent a couple of hoursa week with Starfinder,a soccer program dedicated to providing opportunity for kids from the city environment on the field but also in the classroom.
Several of the women joined the Big Sisters program, where they were paired with a young girl locally and spent an hour or more each week with them, serving as a role model. Former Penn women’s soccer player Kylie Mitchell is the president of the Penn chapter of the Big Sisters organization.
Another soccer player, senior Allyson Gordon, is president of the Penn chapter of Grassroots Soccer, a program aimed at promoting AIDS awareness in Africa through soccer.
“Like most teams, ours responded to a challenge, and the goal of reaching 200 hours as a team was one they took to heart this spring,” said Ambrose. “This is something we intend to carry forward and make a permanent part of our program. In the end, everybody wins.”