Kyra is celebrating her three-year anniversary as a volunteer with SWB Boston this month. She serves as an assistant coach with the middle school girls team and enjoys using her own experience as a young athlete to connect with participants.
When did you first start volunteering for SWB?
I started volunteering in April of 2018, shortly after I moved to Boston. I grew up volunteering with sports-based organizations, so I knew the power that sports can have in bridging cultures, forging friendships and empowering youth. I also studied International Relations in college and had an interest in supporting immigrant communities.
What has surprised you most about working with SWB?
SWB has something to offer everyone, whether you are a seasoned soccer player or just lacing up your cleats for the first time. Many of our players have big soccer dreams and thrive when they are chasing after the ball, scoring a goal, or leading their teammates on the field. Yet other players are drawn more to our team building activities. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how SWB is not just a once a week activity for our players, but a positive and stabilizing force in their lives that offers year-round, diverse programming to meet everyone's needs.
What’s a favorite memory of your time as a volunteer with SWB?
In the fall when we couldn't practice in person because of the pandemic, we did a food exchange on the middle school girls team, where each player was assigned to make a dish for another player. I put my cooking skills to the test, and the following morning I set out to pick up and deliver meals to help execute the exchange. It was heartwarming to see how proud the girls were of their dishes and to see their different cultures shine through their meals. Throughout the pandemic, SWB has found many creative ways to stay connected, but this was probably my favorite one!
What’s the best part about being a SWB volunteer/your favorite thing to do?
My favorite part of being a SWB volunteer is getting to know the girls that play on our middle school team and watching their confidence grow both on and off the field. Middle school is such a transformative time for kids. One player in particular comes to mind. Last fall, she was new to the team (like me), and didn't know many of the other girls well. She was very quiet and hesitant to run after the ball or play offense. I made sure to check in with her at practices — asking about her day at school, her new sweatshirt, or her weekend plans — and to cheer her on on the field. Over the course of the year, her personality and athleticism began to shine as she began to make friends with her teammates and gained the courage to try playing forward for the first time! This season, she even brought a new friend to the team. Growing up, sports were always a huge part of my life and moments like these remind me of how important sports are in youth development.
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering (work, other hobbies)?
I love to run and stay active, read, and travel.
Anything else you’d like to add about SWB or yourself?
Volunteering at SWB has really grounded me in Boston and made this city feel more like home.