Last month, Ryan Marrus a member of the BU14 Blue travel team (featured above to the far right) had the experience of a lifetime at Yankee Stadium during the season finale against the New England Revolution.  He got a chance to meet some of the players on the field following the match including Josh Saunders, Poku, Pirlo, and many others while being honored for his service to the community. 

As a volunteer coach he has raised more than $10,000 to support City in the Community after school programs.

Ryan tells us about his story:

When I first started with DUSC as a 7 year old, I met Paul Jeffries, then a coach with Downton United Soccer Club.  By the time my brother joined DUSC and my dad began coaching in the recreational program, we were all close friends with Paul.  A couple of years later, when he mentioned that he and some of the other coaches also coached kids through a program called City Soccer and that, if I was interested, he could use my help one Saturday morning.

Around November 2014, I reached out to Paul to see if I could help out on a more regular basis. I had heard of City Soccer through some friendlies that we played with them when I was younger. It took a little work to get started.  The first time I went it was a rainy day almost no one showed up.  I then teamed up with Adolfo Lee at PS 134 and was hooked.  I started by working with a small group of kids aged 5-8, working on some skill development and small-sided games.

As I started preparing for my bar mitzvah, my parents and I started talking about my service project, traditionally conducted at some point during the year leading up to the actual ceremony.  Continuing my work with City Soccer, now City in the Community seemed like a natural fit.  With the backing of the new NYCFC team where Paul Jefferies was now head of Community Affairs, the program seemed stronger than ever and I was enjoying it more and more. I could see the progression of these kids' skills. 

I did not expect to keep doing it for more than a year, but as these kids showed more and more improvement from my coaching it became very rewarding.  When the season ended at the end of the school year, I had a real connection with the kids and a real sense of accomplishment. 

At the same time, City in the Community started a program called the healthy hat trick, where they teach kids about good eating, and exercise habits through soccer. It was then that decided to, ask people, instead of gifts for my bar mitzvah, to consider a donation to City in the Community.  I already thought of it as my service project, but I then realized that I could help these kids even more.  Just as Paul and Adolfo had done for me, I could help them develop good habits that would that would help them with life not just soccer.  

As the donations started coming in, the response was amazing and I raised more money than I had ever expected.  Even though my bar mitzvah was back in June, I still get up every Sunday I don't have a soccer game, and head over to meet up with Adolfo and the kids for a couple of hours.  I originally thought of it as service, but now I really enjoy it. They now all know me. Since I coach the kids up to third grade, the kids who I coached last year who were the older and more skilled in the group enjoyed being at the top. Now they wish they were still in my group, since they are now playing with kids up to the age of thirteen or fourteen. It feels really nice to know that they valued and enjoyed having me coach them, since they are always telling me they want to still be in my group.

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