Immokalee Soccer School and Academy more than just soccer

The Academy recently traveled with one of our Immokalee Soccer School & Academy students, Aroldo Santos, to South Bend, Indiana for a visit to Notre Dame University. As part of his campus visit Aroldo attended an orientation, received an official tour of the university, and sat in on two classes including a class in his favorite subject matter — engineering. Many thanks go out to our new Notre Dame friends Peter and Cecily for taking Aroldo to class with them.

(Submitted photo) Aroldo with Coach Gaby at the library called “Touchdown Jesus”.

In addition to being impressed with the beautiful campus and the challenging academics, we were most impressed by the warmth and kindness of the people of Notre Dame University, many of whom took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences, educate us on the many activities and opportunities available at Notre Dame, and reminded us that everything is possible in life if you have the courage to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve your goals.

This trip was yet another step for Aroldo in achieving his dream to attend Notre Dame or another university. Aroldo has participated in Immokalee Soccer School & Academy for five years. When he first started to participate he came without an idea, without any dream, and without a plan for his life. However, thanks to his work and dedication to overcome great obstacles and with his determination to be better for himself, his family, and his community, Aroldo is well on the way on his path to achieve his goals. In 2016 he travelled to Mexico with ISSA to play two international matches, to visit the facilities of the Mexican soccer league team Pachuca, and to experience the country of his parents’ birth. In 2017 Aroldo started to coach our U11 team. Aroldo is a a great model and leader for our youth. In March 2018 Aroldo travelled with ISSA to New York City in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “Fast for Fair Food”, and in September Aroldo started to volunteer at Mision Peniel, a non-profit organization that supports and benefits many people in the community. Every Friday, Aroldo shows up after school to volunteer with Mision Peniel’s weekly food distribution. All this is in addition to being an excellent student at Immokalee High School and working hard every day to improve his grades and to excel at academics.

Aroldo has big plans for his life, but most importantly he desires to be a better person every day. We are so proud of what Aroldo has done so far and look forward to seeing what Aroldo and the rest of our kids at ISSA do in the future. We would like to thank all the people who have contributed to Aroldo’s growth and development including all the wonderful people we met at Notre Dame, especially Lupe Gonzalo and her beautiful family, and to the students, faculty and staff that made our visit so special. Many thanks to Ave Maria University’s Friends of ISSA for being part of our project and to everyone who believed in us and helped to make Aroldo’s trip possible. We thank God for all these blessings. GO ANGELS!

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