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WVU Tech students give local youngsters a head start in sports

In a gym, a male WVU Tech student crouches to talk to two Head Start students, his hand resting on a small, white soccer ball. To his left, two four-year-old girls listen to him as they wait anxiously to kick the soccer balls at their feet.

There’s a little gym in the Raleigh County Community Action Association’s Head Start facility in Beckley – and on Wednesday, November 7, that little gym hosted one of the most adorable events you’ll see all year.

WVU Tech sports studies students hosted a mini soccer camp for the Head Start program’s students. As the youngsters learned to pass the ball and shoot for the goal, they spent the morning learning about the sport and how to work as a team.

Caroline McKelvie is a professor at WVU Tech. She conceived of the camp as a way to put her students to the test while connecting with the community.

“If you can coach five year-old kids, you can coach anyone,” she joked.

“This event was a prime example of how sports can bring people together. The Head Start program is right on our campus, so it was a perfect opportunity for my students to get coaching experience and for the children to learn a new sport. Most of all, I think the students got to see and understand the impact they can have on a community by working with local children,” she said.

Josh Staines, a junior civil engineering major, is the camp director. He helped the kids get to know their coaches and kept time as he rotated students through different coaching stations.

“The kids were great," he said. 

"They listened to the coaches and I feel they really enjoyed the time we spent with them. They all were shy, but once they started the drills they really came out of their shell and made the most out of it. I was glad to see all the kids getting involved and smiling.” 

Connie Chester is the Center Manager of Raleigh County Head Start.

She enjoyed watching her students take so quickly to the activities and learn a bit about good sportsmanship.

“The benefits of working with college students is that they are good role models for our preschoolers. I think that this was a very positive connection between our children and the community,” she said.

McKelvie agreed.

“We have now established a relationship with the program and hopefully we will be able to provide more fun activities in the future. When both parties in a community are willing to work together for the sake of its youth, the only way is forward. We make a difference by working together.”

The group will host another session next Wednesday, November 14, and will donate 20 soccer balls to Head Start so that the children can continue to practice with safe, durable equipment.