Leaders Making Social Change Through Soccer – It’s All Happening at Starfinder

May 2, 2016
Sam, Katharine, Nettie
(from left to right) Samantha Swerdloff, Senior Leaders Coordinator and Facility Manager; Katharine Cunningham, Program Director, Leadership Development & Assessment; Jeanette Hibbs, Program Director, Soccer & Staff Development

Starfinder’s lead staff are wowing – and getting wowed by – soccer enthusiasts from across the region. We’re especially delighted to announce that Jeanette (aka Nettie) Hibbs, Program Director for Soccer & Staff Development, is one of only twelve people to be inducted into the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame this year.

Nettie played semi-professional soccer for the Hampton Roads Piranhas and Philadelphia Liberty FC before she started coaching with Starfinder eight years ago. Nettie has worked with thousands of kids and dozens of coaches during that time – and we’re certain every single one of them is better off because of her help.

Samantha Swerdloff, our Senior Leaders Coordinator, who also played semi-professional soccer and has her Advanced National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, won the 2015 Charlotte Moran Scholarship for the great work she’s done “to grow and develop the women’s game.”

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America awarded the scholarship, which Samantha will use to earn her Premier Diploma, which is the next level of expertise.

Samantha, Nettie, and Katharine Cunningham, Program Director for Leadership Development & Assessment, are just back from the Urban Soccer Symposium, three days of interactive workshops focused on youth-based soccer.

The Symposium is always a just-right blend of “Oh good, we’re already doing that!” and “We need to try that ASAP!” Since returning from this year’s session, they’ve had a chance to integrate what they learned to help kids refocus and re-energize.

“One thing we brought back was the practice of doing a transition ritual to refocus and raise the energy level. After warm up and stretch, we bring everyone in as a group and do our REACH cheer. It’s quick and simple, but it allows us to come together to remember the things we want to work on each day—Readiness, Empathy, Attitude, Communication, Hard Work.”

The Urban Soccer Symposium always includes a visit to Capitol Hill to talk with legislators about soccer’s positive impact. This has never been more important. Every great report about the positive social impact of youth sports (like February’s Uncovering the Social Value of Sport) is matched by tales of shrinking budgets for sports (like March’s Huffington Post piece The Crisis of Sports in Inner-City America).

Starfinder is proud to be part of the solution and appreciative of everyone who helps make it possible. You’re really making a positive difference for kids that need it.