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Connect with Kids Champion – Bob Bigney!

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Congratulations to our CWK Champion

coach bobBob Bigney, or Coach Bob as he is known, works to build Developmental Assets every day through his  work as the Technical Director of Arlington Soccer Association (ASA). As part of that work he develops innovative soccer programs in schools where the students may not be able to take advantage of ASA’s traditional Recreation or Travel soccer programs.

What is even MORE special, though, is how Coach Bob takes the time out from his busy schedule with kids, to do even MORE on a very personal level.

For the past several years, Coach Bob has carved out time and attention for students at Carlin Springs. Countless students light up when Coach Bob walks in the cafeteria, or comes out at recess to organize lunchtime soccer. He has run a boys lunch group to be a positive role model to boys who need extra support.  Teachers know that they can bring Coach Bob in as extra support for students who need help getting along with their peers or staying on top of their schoolwork. Gretchen Brenckle, Carlin Springs guidance counselor, remarks: “Coach Bob has been an inspiration for our 4th and 5th grade boys. He has really helped them understand the larger meaning of teamwork.”

Of course Coach Bob has many stories of children who have touched him in one way or another, like the 4th grade girl he helped get connected with a soccer team – and she is still playing 5 years later. But one guy in particular stands out. A few years ago, Ruben (not his real name) started coming to the afterschool program. He was hard to reach – sullen, never smiling, typically on the outer edges of the group  and participating minimally. Coach Bob tried his magic: the smile, the jokes, inviting him to demonstrate, complementing him. He also took time aside with Ruben, giving him an opportunity to talk and share his thoughts and story. Over time Ruben grew more comfortable and then, one day, a smile broke through. And suddenly a new Ruben started coming to the program. He was fully engaged, laughing, getting along easily with others.

Not many years later, Coach Bob was pleasantly surprised to see Ruben, now a Kenmore student, showing up with the rest of the middle school students who come to mentor students at Carlin Springs. The once-reticent young man was now helping to make his own connections with other young folks.

Knowing that he played a small role in Ruben’s life, and the lives of many other children, gives Bob an extra bounce in his step and keeps him young at heart.

Coach Bob says: Listen to young people!

When asked about his favorite of the 40 Developmental Assets, Coach Bob struggled to identify any single one. He finally shared that, “I would have to say that the first group under External Assets – listed under Support, (Family Support, Caring Neighborhood, Other Adult Relationships, and Caring School Climate), are the ones I feel are important. It is most important that the child has someone that listens to him/her.  Kids always have someone telling them what to do; but I think it is important that they have someone that will listen to them as well.”

Coach Bob, for being one of those Other Adults in Ruben’s and so many others lives, we name you Connect with Kids Champion! Congratulations!

Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) provides soccer programs for youth in Arlington, including traditional Recreation and Travel programs. They also conduct after-school soccer programs at Carlin Springs, Hoffman-Boston, and Barcroft Elementary Schools. Visit the ASA website to find out more!

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Connect with Kids Champions are nominated by members of the community for going above and beyond in their work with young people. Look for information for the next round in the Spring. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Michael Swisher, Assets Liaison, at mswish@arlingtonva.us, or 703-228-1671.

Category: Assets, children, families, News