Elizabethtown women’s soccer had extra motivation and a crowd of their biggest fans cheering them on in their regular season finale last month.
The young players cheering the Blue Jays on by name are part of the Harrisburg Recreation program where many of the Elizabethtown players volunteer with the kids on a weekly basis.
Their presence at the game was part of the second annual See It, Be It game that’s part of an Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer initiative aimed at giving kids - particularly those in under-resourced communities - exposure to individuals and environments that inspire and motivate them.
“We always have families with younger siblings at our games and I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old but when you hear a collective group both last year and this year of kids screaming the players names because they work with them on a weekly basis is something that is really powerful,” Elizabethtown women’s head coach Amy Hough said.
Elizabethtown won the game 3-0 over Lycoming that day to book a spot in the Landmark Conference tournament. They won their quarterfinal match three days later too but fell in the semis to eventual champion Scranton.
One of the lasting memories of the season will be the time spent with the Harrisburg Rec kids, who had a chance to play on the field and interact with the players before and after the match. After their win on Saturday, the kids joined the team huddle for their post-game chant.
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“With them being there, it gave us one more reason to work, one more reason to want to go to playoffs, one more reason to make that run,” said Ava Lammersen, a student leader of the See It, Be It initiative at Elizabethtown. “I think it drove us even more and maybe even powered us through moments where I felt like we couldn't do it. So as much as we were playing for us, we were playing for them.”
Lammersen, a junior biology major from Pilesgrove, N.J., said she fell in love with the program her first time visiting Harrisburg recreation and wanted to get all of her teammates involved.
“Right when you walk in the door, all the kids are just so excited to be there,” she said. “Different players will go each week on days we aren’t training so we basically have our whole team going, which made it even more exciting for them to be at the Lycoming game.”
The Elizabethtown game was the second See It, Be It game of the year. Alvernia women’s soccer hosted a game earlier this season and Penn State Brandywine women hosted players from Chester Upland Soccer for their playoff game on Saturday.
Hough played at Super Nova FC for JT Dorsey, who oversees the program as the Grassroots Manager for Eastern PA Youth Soccer. She was a club teammate of Alvernia coach Amanda Bezner.
“Etown’s motto is educate for service so we want to serve and we want to make sure that we're reaching out to our local communities,” Hough said. “It is such a neat opportunity to be part of this for me and to reconnect with JT after all these years.”
For more information on See It, Be It and other Grow the Game initiatives, contact JT Dorsey at email@example.com.