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SHERIDAN – The offseason for most collegiate sports programs includes workouts, training and film breakdown.
The Sheridan College women’s soccer team still maintains those athletic benchmarks, but the Generals have also added in children’s books, graham crackers and dodge ball.
Under the guidance of head coach Stefan Skillman, the soccer squad volunteered at the YMCA’s afterschool program regularly throughout the month of November. Last Wednesday afternoon, several of the team’s 20 players engaged in games inside the gymnasium, read books and ate snacks with elementary school kids.
Freshman defender and Sheridan High School graduate, Celena Kelly, 19, was one of the several Generals interacting with children on Wednesday.
“I love working with kids,” said Kelly, who is studying dental hygiene. “I think it’s a great thing for us to get out into the community and work with everyone so they will look up to us.”
The soccer team wrapped up its inaugural season in October. Skillman, as much as he is dedicated to developing talent on the pitch, is equally invested in cultivating character off it.
“The girls probably get sick and tired of me preaching the same thing, but we are always talking about three things: integrity, passion and servant leadership, and this is our aspect of really showing them the very real-life situation of what servant leadership looks like,” Skillman said.
Skillman, an upstate New York native, landed in Sheridan after educational stops at Grace Bible College in Michigan and Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota. He is a devout leader.
“We like to give back to the community,” Skillman said. “We are also trying to get involved with soccer stuff here, because the local YMCA has the biggest group of kids who play soccer in this town. So this is part of us getting involved in the town, and a lot of our girls are elementary education majors, too. It’s a good experience.”
SC goalie and YMCA employee Jacey Repsis was instrumental in bringing her teammates to the afterschool program.
“I think it’s a little bit challenging for the girls, and hopefully it reminds them of what they used to be like,” Skillman said.
Sheridan product Baylee Baker, a 19-year-old defensive specialist, has enjoyed volunteering with kids. It’s helped her as an early childhood education major.
“I love working with kids. I decided I wanted to go into the field when I was a babysitter,” Baker said. “They go crazy when we walk in. They all stare and watch us. It’s pretty cool. It’s crazy how much of an influence an older kid can make on little kids.”
In the offseason, the SC women’s soccer team, under NJCAA rules, is allowed eight hours per week of organized team events, ranging from practices to training.
Skillman’s squad spends some of those precious hours volunteering.
“Just to get ourselves out in the community and let people know we’re here and we’re here to make a difference,” Kelly said.