In 2003 The Virginia Legacy Soccer Club alongside Al Albert (Former Head Coach- William and Mary), began a program designed to allow kids the opportunity to play soccer. With the help of James River Elementary school and their staff – the first Legacy Community Partnership team started.
The Mission was simple: “Any child with a will to play soccer, the most popular team sport in the world, should be able to do so regardless of socio-economic status.” After several successful seasons the partnership program started to spread to several other schools within the community.
Currently more than 300 children participate in the program. The Community Partnership program has now expanded to 8 out of 9 local elementary schools within Williamsburg/James-City County. Starting with just one team back in 2003, the program now supports 16 different teams ranging from grades 1-5. The growth and expansion has been made possible by grants from the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation. Recently the Virginia Legacy was a recipient of a 2014 Health Foundation Award for its programs and help promoting health in the community. Read more here - http://www.valegacysoccer.com//home/844619.html
With the current participation of elementary schools: James River, Matoaka, DJ Montague, Rawls Byrd, JB Blayton, Norge, Stonehouse, and Matthew Whaley, the Virginia Legacy soon hopes to expand into the local WJCC middle schools in the future. “Allowing the program to expand to the middle school level – will really bridge the gap between elementary school soccer and high school soccer. We are hoping this will keep more kids playing through their 6,7,8th grade years so they will be more inclined to play the sport in HS.” – Says Bobby O’Brien – Technical Director of Virginia Legacy.
Currently each team practices once a week, under the tutelage of a staff supervisor and students from the College of William and Mary. Every player receives shin-guards, socks, and two uniforms, all provided for free by the Community Partnership Program. The program also provides the coaches with soccer coaching education so they can better serve the children and ensure a fun and appropriate environment. With the growth of the league, transportation then became available through the efforts of the School Health Initiative Program. The Virginia Legacy also supports the SHIP (Student Health Initiative Program) soccer programs that involve a similar number of children in the Fall.
Over the years several players have graduated out of the Community Partnership program to take soccer to another level. The Legacy Soccer Club is constantly looking to provide Travel Soccer for the kids that graduate out of the Partnership Program. Aaliyah Lyttle and Kendall Pressey are two outstanding examples of what hard work, dedication, and a helping hand can lead to. Aaliyah and Kendal both started out in the Community Partnership program, moved up from there to their-own travel teams and then after years of hard work, earned a spot on their own respective collegiate soccer teams. Currently, Aaliyah is attending the Virginia Military Institute where she plays soccer for the NCAA Division 1 program. Kendall is finishing up his career as a senior, currently attending Chowan University another NCAA Division III program. Both players have come back each spring and summer to be role models for the young kids currently in the program. They spend their times on the weekends helping and playing with the kids – letting them know of their experiences and teaching them about life skills through soccer. Kendall also plays for the semi-pro team Legacy 76 during the summers while also working soccer camps for the youth on the peninsula.
Soccer became a significant part of Aaliyah's life early on.
“I started playing soccer when I was five or six. I used to watch my sister play rec soccer, and all I wanted to do was just go out and play. Jonny (Kamara) and Mr. Albert saw me and asked me to come out and start playing (for the Community Partnership Program). Since then I’ve never stopped.”
The Virginia Legacy Community Partnership is also charter member of the Urban Soccer Collaborative. This national organization includes many of the top organizations serving inner-city youth, and it is a terrific organization for the advancement of soccer in this country and also to serve underserved communities.