This is a tale of two Student Support Workers (SSWs).
Beaconsfield Elementary SSW Paul Myers isn't new to coaching. Long before he moved over to Beaconsfield to take over the boys' soccer team, he was a coach at Seymour Elementary. There he worked for two decades coaching soccer, volleyball, basketball and even flag football. When he arrived at his new school, Myers realized there was a tremendous interest at the school around soccer. With a strong coaching track record, Myers took up the soccer coaching responsibilities with gusto.
Meanwhile across town, Strathcona Elementary's SSW Steve Valente prepared for his eighth consecutive year leading his soccer team. For Valente, coaching was a responsibility he just couldn't turn away from. He says he grew up in the inner city where he benefited from coaches and teachers who believed in him. These days he feels blessed to be able to give back to his community.
Over the course of the soccer season, the two coaches would lead their two teams to the City Championships final. That's where things got intense.
Myers says the final game was an exhilarating, if stressful, experience for his players.
"It is fantastic, but I really stressed to the kids that we were there to have fun and have a good time. You don't want the kids to feel that pressure," he says.
After a hard fought game on both sides, Strathcona Elementary emerged victorious winning 1-0 after capitalizing on a penalty shot.
When the final whistle went, Valente says his kids exploded with excitement.
"When we won I felt thrilled because these kids really worked hard for the past three years," says Valente. "There was just such joy in their faces. Then they all just hugged and there was no individual just the team."
For Meyer's Beaconsfield squad, the whistle brought an opposite (though short-lived) reaction.
"When the whistle blew, they were disappointed," says Meyers of his team. "But then when we chatted and realized how far we'd gone, they were great. We had a good time. We got to run around the school and kept chanting 'We're Number 2'."