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UI Volunteers Catie and Ashley


Ever wonder what it’s like to volunteer with Urban Initiatives? Well, UI Junior Board members and volunteers Catie and Ashley share their experience with you during their time with the Jahn team. Catie and Ashley joined the UI and Jahn team this past Fall and continue to attend practices as regularly as the Jahn players do. With the Fall and Winter Work to Play seasons in the books they are committed to finishing the year strong as they bring a little bit of extra sunshine to the Spring season!

The following was written by Coach Catie and Coach Ashley.


It’s dark. It’s cold. There isn’t even a 7 on the clock yet and I’m sure there’s snow on the ground. “Beep, beep, beep, beep,” my phone echoes the louder ones coming from across the room. It’s an emoji-less text from down the hall that simply reads, “Are u up?”Yes, I was and so was she. I drag myself from the warmth of my blankets and take a few cold steps towards the alarm clock, an hour before I usually start hitting snooze on a regular weekday. A few minutes later, we both emerge from our rooms, bundled in sweats, earmuffs, gloves and running shoes. We mutter a few sentences to each other that mostly center around the words “cold,” “tired,” “early” and “so tired.”

Two taps of our CTA passes later and we’re at Jahn World Language Academy. We walked through the empty quiet halls adorned with art projects and I can’t help but smirk to myself proudly for every Spanish poster I can translate. We get to the gym and flip the 12 switches to turn on the lights. Then we can hear them, bounding up the stairs, full of excitement. The students race through the doors pushing the goals in and across the floor, which always seems to be an exhilarating footrace to the end line. Giggles fill the gym, making it brighter than 12 light switches ever could.

I glance up at the clock and see that 7 I was looking for an hour ago and we make our way to the center circle to start stretching. “To the right. 1, 2, 3….” Coach Guerra instructs the team and we follow. A few drills, games, the 5-Finger Contract review, and about 30 ricocheting soccer balls later and we can’t believe practice is already over.

As we walk through the schoolyard towards the bus, our earlier conversations of negativity were long forgotten. The energy and enthusiasm of the students were infectious and we can’t help but to smile and recount every moment we saw a child confidently use the step-over move we taught him the week before, master a left-footed, sweet-spot pass, or race to get in line to play one of the team’s favorite games, Star Wars.

Those are the rewarding moments that get us up in the morning, no matter how cold or dark or long the commute. Those are the moments that remind us how fortunate we were to have the coaches and mentors that volunteered to help us grow. It’s for each of those moments that we believe in Urban Initiatives and are grateful to be a part of an organization that empowers youth to strive for their full potentials.

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