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  • Soccer Without Borders

Coach Vanessa: From Youth Participant to Coach and Mentor

It is with great excitement and gratitude that Soccer Without Borders Boston has welcomed former SWB participant, Keydy Vanessa Rico, as the newest member of our programming staff. SWB has made it a priority to develop a pathway from participant to coach mentor in order to draw upon the experience and skills of the talented youth who come through our programs. Having been with SWB as a participant for nine years, and demonstrated great enthusiasm throughout, Coach Vanessa offers a unique insight into our program activities that can make the field even more of a space of comfort, safety, and understanding for current participants.

Coach Vanessa (right) alongside Girls Program Coordinator Caitlin Saupe (center) and Volunteer Coach Shelby (left)

When asked about her personal story and how it led to SWB, Coach Vanessa said, “I was born in Honduras, Tegucigalpa and I came to the United States in 2011, when I was nine years old. The first few months when I started going to school were really hard for me. I was very shy and I didn’t know how to speak English. That’s when I first heard about Soccer Without Borders, because my little sister and my cousin were attending. I have improved my soccer skills and English skills a lot in the past years that I have been with SWB. I have become this outgoing person and am now not afraid to try new things. I started to be involved in coaching around two years ago and little by little I have been moving up and learning more about it. It does feel different now that I am a coach. I have been where the participants are and now I am teaching them what I was taught. I think it’s a very good experience because I understand them. I can help them more to improve and make them feel comfortable.” 

Vanessa with Senior Program Coordinator Ye-Htet Soe in 2019

Speaking to others about her thoughts on SWB, Coach Vanessa said, “I would one hundred percent recommend this to others as the best organization in Boston. This can be your second family where you can have fun. It’s a safe space to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. I thank SWB for every opportunity they have given me during the nine years I have been with them. I can’t wait for more and to keep being a part of the program in any way I can be involved.”

SWB Boston Girls Program Coordinator, Caitlin Saupe was keen to point out Coach Vanessa’s willingness to learn and her ability to relate participants. “Vanessa has been very enthusiastic about coaching! After being a player for so long, she is eager to learn all there is to know on the coaching side of things. I’ve watched her push herself out of her comfort zone, growing more confident in each circle or drill she facilitates,” said Caitlin. “Vanessa has great leadership potential. She is not the loudest on the field, but rather a calm reassuring presence to both her peers and the younger athletes. They are drawn to her and bond with her quickly!”

Going into the fall season at a time when many participants feel isolated, we now look forward to seeing Coach Vanessa continue to excel in her role, draw upon her experiences, and forge those important bonds with the youth we serve!


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