New Haven immigrant family finds soccer bridges gaps, opens doors
By Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register
Posted: 04/19/14, 6:45 PM EDT
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A love of soccer has brought together a New Haven woman and a West African family fleeing war-torn Liberia that has changed the lives of both.
Lucky for the Bartoahs, Lauren Mednick, 30, takes the idea of volunteerism to a new level.
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Under this arrangement, Abraham, Andrew, Mu’ammar and Shemar Nesbeth got to play with the South Central Premier Academy team, which is the highest level youth soccer league, one of about 58 in the country.
This way, they would get to travel around and be seen by college coaches, Mednick said. “All of these teams come together as showcases. It’s really a way of exposing our kids,” she said.
“We are not experts in every area, particularly in soccer, so for someone like Abraham, his current coach (at Monroe College in New Rochelle) said he could go professional, I’m not the right coach,” Mednick said as she sat in the CFC Arena in Hamden, an indoor facility where many of the leagues play.
All of this has paid off and Abraham, now 19, has just been recruited by Manhattan College in the Bronx, where he will play Division I soccer for its team, the Jaspers, this fall.
“When I first met Lauen, everything changed for me. It really impacted my life, my school work. She helped me a lot getting in touch with coaches, getting trials with them,” Abraham aid.
Playing soccer as a kid in Liberia was fun, he said, but “it was not organized like here where kids wear uniforms and cleats. We played with friends in the street,” Abraham said.
Abraham is one of two players with full scholarships to college. He has an athletic scholarship to Monroe, a junior college, where he is now finishing his sophomore year with a 3.0 grade point average. Another boy got a full academic scholarship to Santa Clara College in California.
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[JR: Alma Mater changes lives. Read the whole story. One volunteer lady making a huge difference.]
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