Kensington Soccer Club Executive Director Jim Hardy (middle right) and volunteer Yadelies Prieto (left) pose with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. Kensington Soccer Club Received The 2018 Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Sports Volunteer of the Year Award.
The Lombardi Trophy sat no more than 10 feet from Jim Hardy on Monday afternoon. The Philadelphia Eagles, with coach Doug Pederson and president Don Smolenski in attendance, were being honored with the John Wanamaker Athletic Award at a luncheon in Center City. Highlights of the Eagles' Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots played on the big screen behind the dais, but Hardy could not be bothered. He buried his head in his notebook, tweaking the words he wanted to relay to a room full of Philadelphia dignitaries.
"It was a thrill," said Hardy of his proximity to the Lombardi Trophy. "I'm a lifelong Eagles fan. But to be honest, I was so nervous about the moment and the speech, I wasn't really allowing that all to sink in. But just having that everyday experience, the ups and downs, with the kids is the thrill of a lifetime. As great as the Lombardi Trophy is, I wouldn't trade my everyday life for it."
That everyday life is volunteering as the Executive Director of Kensington Soccer Club. Monday, Kensington Soccer Club received the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Sports Volunteer of the Year Award as part of the Wanamaker honorees. The club, behind Hardy's efforts among others, has grown to help some 1400 players with the aid of 60-plus coaches in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and beyond.
"It's so amazing that the Philadelphia Sports Congress has this award and offers this award to volunteer groups that work with Parks & Recreation," said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner. "It was an absolute no-brainer that when we had to nominate someone this year and thinking about the department's renewed commitment to soccer, to think about a really tremendous grassroots soccer organization, Kensington Soccer is that club."
"For me, it's thrilling to have the recognition, and it helps motivate me to keep going," said Hardy, who was joined on stage by Yadelies Prieto, a volunteer and player with Kensington Soccer Club. "But in truth, it's really an everyday interaction with the kids and their parents and our youth leaders that keeps me the most motivated. I'm hoping that this event is a sign of things to come for our organization, where we're able to continue to have an impact on the grassroots level and also get more institutional support and recognition."
For more information on Kensington Soccer Club, visit KensingtonSoccer.org.
Pictured from left to right: Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Director of Outreach JT Dorsey, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Director of Soccer Development & Performance Gary Stephenson, Jim Hardy and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer CEO Chris Branscome.
ABOUT EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH SOCCER:
Since 1972, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has worked throughout Eastern Pennsylvania to promote, foster and perpetuate the game of soccer to the region’s youth. Through competitions, educational programs, outreach efforts and coaching clinics, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer impacts the lives of more than 120,000 youth soccer players from ages 5 to 19. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer is one of 55 state associations in US Youth Soccer and a member of the United States Soccer Federation. Additional information about Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer can be found at www.EPYSA.org.