Making Students ‘Feel Seen, Worthy, and Important’ in Visits With Pro Teams

UI Summer Camps 2023

Visits to and from Chicago’s professional sports teams are inspiring kids and coaches at Urban Initiatives (UI) summer camps throughout the city, says Lead Soccer Program Manager Annie Waldoch. Here’s how: 

Cubs: Seven UI summer camps visited Wrigley Field, going onto the field to run around the bases, toss baseballs, and meet students from different schools. Coach Gabriel Wilson from Pullman said he “felt like a kid again going onto Wrigley Field.” One student from Nixon Elementary School, which is in Hermosa, said her favorite part of the trip was “going on the field and feeling like an MLB player.” 

Red Stars: UI Soccer Program Manager James Risley said that after Supernova, the Chicago Red Stars’ mascot, visited Manierre’s summer camp in Old Town, students showed up to camp the next day with temporary Red Stars tattoos all over their bodies! Several girls at camp said they now want to become professional soccer players and can’t wait for the Red Stars and their mascot to visit again. 

Bulls: Chicago Bulls staff visited Greene and Esmond summer camps to run engaging, fast-paced basketball clinics. Students and coaches spoke very highly of this experience. Coach Adrian Echevarria from Greene, which is in McKinley Park, said: “It’s important for a professional sports team like the Bulls to visit our school because they’re part of our community. We’re Chicago. We’re one community.” Laurie Smith, a staff member at Esmond, which is in Morgan Park, said that “when a professional talks about what they went through, it gives a kid motivation.” Coach Laura Quintana said, “It’s important that such a big, famous team is here at the school in a small neighborhood in Chicago because it makes the students feel seen, worthy, and important.” 

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