Learning Soccer at the Feet of a Master
Eric Cartwright, a 10-year-old from Northeast who was the size of a dorm-room refrigerator, said he loved soccer because of the tricks he learned.
To prove his point, he had a friend, Dante Johnson, 9, throw a soccer ball at his head. Eric butted it back. Then he smiled broadly.
"They were so excited to meet Freddy, they were up at 7," said Juanita Johnson, a parent volunteer at Smothers Elementary School in Northeast.
She was doing her part to help the players, holding four shirts, two pocketbooks, a bag of shoes, two hats, a backpack and one white-and-yellow soccer ball.
Johnson said soccer is fun, but writing is just as important to the kids.
"There are a lot of things they can't say to their parents and their friends, but they put it in writing to let the world know," she said.
Sharticia Bryant, 13, said she never would have started playing soccer if it weren't for the program.
Her friends mostly like basketball. But her Northeast neighborhood is changing, and soccer has become a passport to new friends.
"I live in a mostly Spanish neighborhood, so I play with them," she said. "That's why I'm so good."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company