Can you tell us something nice about your coaches?

“They are straight up, and if you need something they will get it for you. They know how to explain things well.” 

“Whenever I struggle, coaches tell me to get up and don’t forget who you are. Don’t give up.”

“She asks a lot of questions about me. She likes getting to know me better. She likes teaching me skills I don’t usually get because it’s my first year playing soccer.” 

“He makes soccer training fun. Before, I did softball, and I like soccer better.” 

“I like how he has a variety of activities for us. He had cool incentives on soccer skills he wanted us to get better at.”

“They help me improve my dribbling.”

“He stops and takes his time to tell us what’s right and wrong.”

GRASSP Origin and Ongoing Impact

GRASSP started with 4 schools in 2010 and has since impacted thousands of Salem-Keizer students with soccer programming at no cost to families. GRASSP has seen programs in more than 30 schools in the Salem-Keizer area since it’s origin. With it’s free soccer programming and 10 core values, GRASSP serves as a vehicle to help students improve their connection to school and better grasp their education. Together, our GRASSP partners provide students with weekly soccer training sessions, valuable life lessons, and memorable tournament play. 

Students in Salem-Keizer face a variety of challenges associated with the neighborhoods and the communities they call home. The weight of these challenges impacts a student’s ability to be connected to school. Whether it’s school attendance, respect to others, or focus in class, GRASSP exists as a soccer pathway to help students better grasp their education. Soccer brings team structure and offers students a chance to contribute towards something the school is passionate about. Students learn to channel their motivation, interest, and love for soccer in other aspects of their life and improve their grasp on education. 

Coaches Drive Impact

Coaches have the opportunity to mold and lead students weekly through soccer. Our coaches are inspired by the growth of the students and the impact it has on their academic connection. Being on the GRASSP team embodies a special motivation that gives the student support in school. 

Coaches are the center piece that makes GRASSP a success. When we asked students what they like about their coaches, students painted a picture of love, respect, enthusiasm, trust, and kindness.

Why do kids love GRASSP?

Why do you like soccer?

“I like soccer because my dad plays, my brother plays, and soccer is a family thing.”

“You can learn tricks. I come from a family that loves soccer.” 

“I like soccer because it helps me be calm and focused on something I like.”

“Soccer is fun. Soccer is the sport I wanted to play.” 

“I like soccer a lot. Soccer is my first sport ever.”

“I get to have fun, get to hang out with my friends, and I have teammates.” 

“There’s lots of positions and you get to do teamwork. You can win and be happy, and lose and be happy.” 

“When I practice, it makes me feel happy and I enjoy the gameplay.”

“We can learn more about sports, and we can find new friends.”

“I like soccer because it’s stress relieving and a really fun sport.” 

“Because I used to watch a lot of soccer, then I started playing it a lot. First I was defender, and I’m a goalie.” 

“My family plays and I like playing soccer with my cousins.”

“Because one day I want to be an elite player.”

What does it feel like to play in the GRASSP tournaments?

“I feel like I belong.”

“It’s nice because we get to go against a lot of people. The bigger the field, the faster we can run.”

“Scary, but when you’re into it, it’s very fun!” 

“It feels really good. I like playing against other schools.”

“It makes me happy because we were the winning team for the school.”

“I feel like a star. I play my best, no matter if I get hurt or not. I want to help my team make goals and pass the ball well.”

Grassroot Soccer Plants the Seed

GRASSP is one of the reasons students are excited about school! Students appreciate GRASSP because it helps them form positive relationships with their classmates, staff, and personal physical activity level. For students new to experienced, GRASSP helps plant the seed that soccer can be for everyone! 

What do our schools say about GRASSP?

In our 2023 GRASSP Schools Survey, we found…

96% of GRASSP schools agree their participating students are more engaged with school and generally have better attendance since joining the program.

100% of GRASSP schools would recommend GRASSP to other schools.

100% of GRASSP schools wish to continue participating with GRASSP.

GRASSP Creates Connection

Schools have shared with us that some families have improved their communication with the school because of GRASSP. Families that have traditionally been hard to communicate with regarding academics or behavior have been more responsive and supportive of school efforts because the families appreciate GRASSP. When the students see the adults in their family step up and communicate better with the school, the student follows the lead and experiences the benefits of being more connected to their education. 

Schools Value GRASSP

GRASSP is well received by participating schools. Schools value GRASSP because it helps students improve their connection to education. Students comment how they are teammates with other people from other grades or classrooms in the school, and they think it’s cool! GRASSP creates a soccer space where students have the opportunity to train, play, and socialize with a unique group of students.

Challenges GRASSP Students Face

Many of our students experience challenges locally in their neighborhood or directly in their home. We found the following to be most prevalent in our communities:

  1. Frequent Youth Violence
  2. Disrespectful Interactions with Adults
  3. Unwanted Drug Culture in Home
  4. Shootings
  5. Gang Activity
  6. Broken Families
  7. Trauma Backgrounds
  8. Poverty
  9. Learning Disabilities and Social Settings
  10.  Older Sibling Trouble
  11.  Lack of a Positive Role Model
  12.  Lack of Food
  13.  Lack of Supervision
  14.  Lack of Home Play Space
  15.  Unsafe Home Environments
  16.  Lack of Regular Physical Activity
  17.  Foster Care
  18.  Disruptive Classrooms

GRASSP exists as an opportunity for kids to experience routine physical activity, teamwork, and skills associated with playing soccer. In addition to soccer programming, GRASSP schools teach 10 Core Values in tandem with soccer training. Combined, GRASSP helps students build community and a social responsibility that impacts their connection to school and the relationships with staff inside. GRASSP helps students stay focused on school and supports them with a network of adult role models to work through the adversity they face. 

Grasping Education Since 2010

How has GRASSP helped you be more connected to school?

“GRASSP has helped me talk more in class, and get out of my comfort zone.”

“I have the same responsibilities as other students in my class, but I feel like a leader.”

“Honestly, I only come to school for soccer.”

“Made me make new friends and not be shy. I can work with people from different grades.”

“Improved communication.” 

“Being with my friends and learning new people.”

“I learn better because I get to go to soccer practice.” 

“Since I’m focusing on soccer, it helps me focus in school, too.”

“Our coach has been teaching us how to be a good leader in school, and having examples in soccer.” 

“I used to talk back to the teacher. Now, I listen and do the work.”

“I’ve been working hard on school so I can play more soccer.”

“GRASSP has helped me focus on things, like paying attention to things.”

“A better influence on my friends. I get to spend time with my friends when I work hard in school.”

“It’s helped me be more focused.”

“I get to learn more about soccer and it helps me with focusing on school work.”

“Soccer helps me with my emotions and gives me something fun to work on.” 

“When I’m in class, GRASSP helps me focus when I’m upset. If I get upset, I think about my place and role with soccer for the team, and it motivates me.”

“GRASSP helped me learn how to better interact with people.”

Partner with Us, Make a Difference

Volunteers and Sponsorships Welcome

GRASSP is always looking for passionate volunteers and community partners. Contact us to learn how community members can partner with schools and help support our programs during their soccer seasons. Our team is always looking for referees, photographers, game managers, and trophies for our community jamborees and tournaments.