Snoop Dogg Has a Message for the Gonzo Girls!

19 Jul

“I arrived in NYC on Monday for a photoshoot and ran into none other than Mr. Snoop Dogg himself!  Turns out Snoop is a pretty nice guy, and everytime he says the word Dogg in a sentence, its doubly funny because its Snoop saying it..he kinda invented that phrase.

The shoot took about 3 hours and I was a little traumatized because I was in New York City with these production crews who work with real actors and models all the time, and acting is not my forte.

After the shoot I asked Snoop to film a message for the girls of Gonzo Soccer. He not only said yes and filmed the awesome message in the video, he said he would like to see if he can get his people to get our girls some jerseys, but our girls have to earn them. Maybe if everyone increases their juggles and decreases their times on the fitness tests, he will come through 🙂  He picked the colors hot pink and black…what do ya’ll little dawgettes think?”

post by Monica Gonzalez

Lifeskills: Volunteering

30 Apr

Tonight at Gonzo Soccer Chicago, our lifeskills lesson was about ‘volunteering’.

Here were some of our questions that we discussed with the girls and some answers that we came up with individually, and as a group:

What is volunteering?
It is an act of giving your time/abilities to help out a greater cause without expecting anything in return.

How many of you have helped others in the past week?
We were pleased that all the athletes were able to think of ways they have ‘helped’ in the last week!

What are some ways you can volunteer in the next week?
Many of the girls suggested they could help teach younger siblings and relatives soccer skills… something we learn each week at Gonzo! They can take these basic skills to teach others.
Other ways that were mentioned:
Helping to take dogs for a walk.
Helping with basic chores.

Besides volunteering, what else could you do to help others daily?
Most of what came up involved being able to help family members with daily chores and activities around the house or helping with younger siblings. These are things the girls could do on a daily basis where ‘helping’ turns into a healthy habit.

We will revisit this activity in the next month to see what other ways the girls have decided they could volunteer or help others and we look forward to the new responses!

Talking about Earth Day

23 Apr

Because Earth Day fell on a Sunday, we did a retrospective style lifeskills session to raise awareness of the topic.

Coach Alyse began by asking the girls what activities or topics they discussed at school the previous week that celebrated Earth Day. To our surprise, there was only one student that did anything pertaining to Earth Day at school. Her class at school spent time cleaning a park. This is an excellent example of real-life activities that students can learn from school to represent ways we can take care of the Earth and live responsibly.

Each girl took a piece of paper and wrote out an activity that she could do in the next week to represent and honor Earth Day. It included words and an accompanying image. We have many artists in our Gonzo Chicago Academy! 🙂

Gonzo Earth Day artists 🙂

A Gonzo Reunion

26 Mar

The whole group!

Tonight we had not two, but THREE Gonzo coaches at training!

After some time away, Coaches Monica Gonzalez and Alyse LaHue both happened to be in town at the same time and were able to come along for training this week with the Gonzo girls.

Gonzo stalwart and lifeskills coach Olivia was also in attendance along with special guest coach all the way from the Canada Women’s National Team, staffer (and a former Goalkeeper!) Sian Bagshawe.

Alyse and Sian focused on the older girls at training, while Monica took the youngers, and Olivia of course had the lifeskills on deck!

Here’s some photos from our ‘reunion’:

Monica Gonzalez to be keynote speaker at Urban Soccer Symposium!

5 Mar

We want to congratulate Gonzo founder Monica Gonzalez on being announced as keynote speaker for US Soccer Foundation’s 2012 Urban Soccer Symposium, taking place in Washington D.C. from April 16th – April 19th.

Monica will be the opening ceremony speaker on April 16th, although she has remained tight-lipped about the topic of her speech! We will be following up on the Gonzo Soccer Blog with week-long updates, photos, and interviews from the symposium, so stay tuned!

Coach Marisa to head program for Coaches Across Continents!

17 Feb

Gonzo Soccer wants to send our congratulations to Coach Marisa Brown for being announced as a Monitoring & Evaluation Strategist for 2012 for Coaches Across Continents. Your hard work has paid off Marisa and we will continue to follow your amazing journey this year!

Read more here at the Coaches Across Continents blog.

Marisa in Columbia with Coaches Across Continents

Coach Marisa’s Coaches Across Continents Update

12 Nov

Gonzo Coach Marisa Brown is on assignment in the Coaches Across Continents program where she is currently based in Liberia, Africa. Before she returns home in late December, she will also be working in South Africa. This is her update from the road!

Orphanage in Liberia

“When I found out that I had been selected to work with Coaches Across Continents as a coach with three partner programs, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was hesitant to take the position considering my deep involvement with GONZO Academy, however, I knew that when an opportunity like this one presents itself, I had to take advantage of it. I now know that after already working with a program in Tamale, Ghana and Monrovia, Liberia and becoming very familiar with the Coaches Across Continents curriculum and coaching model that I will be now able to take what I have learned and bring it home to Gonzo Academy. The CAC curriculum uses soccer as a platform to address social issues facing communities in 14 African countries. CAC believes that in coaching the coaches of local organizations that we can provide a service that is often lacking in communities. Our curriculum tackles four main themes including health/wellness, female empowerment, HIV prevention and conflict resolution. There are many unique features of this curriculum and for me the most distinct feature has been the fact that we stay on the pitch for all of the trainings because the actual games are the tools for teaching life skills. We don’t have to leave the field in order to teach kids how to think quicker, how to take care of their bodies and how to be aware of others in their societies. All these life skills are part of the games and therefore are fun for the youth.

I am very encouraged to bring many of these games home to work with the GONZO Academy group because I know the group is very receptive to new games, ideas and learning. I have often found it difficult to incorporate both life skills into the actual trainings, so I believe that these games can be implemented and adapted to work with the special group at GONZO. I have worked mainly with young male teams while in Ghana and in Liberia and for many of these teams it was the first chance they had seen a female footballer. Personally, it was encouraging for me to show the youth populations that females too could play and also could coach. There is a lot of respect given to football coaches in their communities and my colleague and I were able to garner that respect from not only the players but also the coaches, families and community leaders. It was quite obvious that football is the passion of both countries and it has been a positive force for uniting the communities, particularly in Liberia where the country is rebuilding after a 14-year civil war.

When we travel it becomes apparent that football can be played anywhere and by anyone. It is a game that doesn’t require much at all.  I have seen pitches on clay grounds, sand grounds, concrete, grass, front churchyards, school playgrounds, streets and even on beaches covered with trash. Not only are pitches composed of any materials, but also are the soccer balls- from plastic bags tightly wound into a ball to orange rinds to completely deflated footballs. As long as the passion is alive, the game will be played. The little things that I believe we focus on too much at home, including equipment, cones and playing conditions don’t even matter in the two countries I visited because having a ball is often a luxury in itself.

One thing that I would encourage the girls at Gonzo and any other aspiring footballer to do is to take advantage of being able to watch soccer on television. Pick a team that you enjoy watching and start to follow the players and the games. It is important to watch soccer and learn from the best. You will see that teams are now comprised of individuals from all over the world and that in itself teaches one about the global game of soccer.”

Female Team from Outside Monrovia

Control & 20 Questions

18 Oct

There must have been something in the air tonight because we had a handful of girls come super early to today’s session. Since Coach Lu (Julianne Sitch) was ready to go, they immediately took advantage of the open field and began training. The girls were excited to get started when they saw that we would be playing on one of the bigger fields at Chi-Town Futbol.

Coach Lu and the players.

Our session today centered on basic dynamics and touches. The girls practiced their volleys by insoles, laces, headers & chest. They also zoned in on one-touch passing and receiving using the newly-acquired skills performed in the previous drill.

All ages training.

The girls were finally able to put all of their skills together in a small scrimmage match. We separated the girls into 4 teams, giving them rules of one- and two-touch passing only. Our winning team was made up of Carina Hernandez, Kelly Medina, and Jocelyn Rivera. Congrats girlies! Everyone else had to perform the favored “punishment” of singing “I’m a Little Teapot”… actions included. : )

After practice, our life-skills session was an open question day, letting the girls ask the coaches any question in their heads—from soccer to home life to school. The girls really wanted to learn more about Coach Lu, so they grilled her about her high school, college, and professional soccer experiences. They were so pumped to hear that Coach Lu was from the local area like they are, giving them added support that they too would be able to one day advance and maybe even go pro in the sport they love!

Mmm…Watermelon

11 Oct

The girls had an outstanding practice today putting in 110% effort the entire session. Beginning with a game of “Djibouti” to get the girls warmed up and sprints afterwards, they were more than ready for the drills we had planned.

We decided to have an all-academy training session and noticed tons of encouragement from the more developed players towards the younger girls. They worked on give-and-go’s with the coaches as defenders, practiced one-touch shooting, and ended with an intense game of knock-out.

We knew that one of the parents brought in watermelon as a snack, so Coach Lu + Olivia decided to make the life-skills session about nutrition. We realize that it’s hard for the girls to have control over what types of food their parents put on the table, so we talked more about what food to eat while they are out with their friends. We also encouraged the girls to go with their parents to the grocery stores so they could suggest healthier options to put in their carts.

The girls then wrote out a list of their favorite fruits and veggies in their Gonzo Soccer notebooks and were instructed to check off the items if their parents bought them at the store or if they had them in their houses already. Their goal was to get more than half of their items checked off by next week’s session.

Hopefully we’ll have good news to report for our next blog!

watermelon time!

Happy Birthday Monica!

10 Oct

Special happy birthday today to Gonzo founder Monica Gonzalez. Feliz Cumpleanos!