For CCHS soccer players, the focus is competing and winning at every turn. This year, they’re learning about the importance of giving back and helping developmentally disabled athletes succeed as part of the Prime Time Games program.
Created in 2004, the Prime Time Games is a full-inclusion, peer-mentor sports program wherein the students coach and play alongside children with developmental disabilities. The games, the centerpiece of the non-profit Team Prime Time leadership component, give students the opportunity to give back to their community by creating an invaluable social and recreational environment that is truly a win-win situation, with both “athlete” and “coach” enjoying benefits that last a lifetime. For many of the “athletes” the games represent the only chance to participate in a “real,” structured sports program.
“It is an honor to participate in the Prime Time Games,” said Abel Lucas Lezcano, boys varsity soccer captain and a peer coach. “It’s great for both the athletes and the peer coaches to play with one another. Not only does it help children who would not be able to participate in an organized high school sport, it also allows them to interact with other children of their age. These athletes are my heroes because although they are limited mentally and/or physically, they live life to the fullest and now they are taking it to a whole new level.”
“Being a peer coach is an incredible learning experience,” said Emily Cadena. “Training and playing side-by-side with our athletes is truly satisfying, especially when they begin to participate and learn about the beautiful game, soccer. As a peer coach, I am constantly interacting with my athlete, allowing me to build a strong rapport with a unique student. Overall, our teamwork and hard work is rewarded when our athletes are having fun and smiling.”
The athletes are currently practicing in preparation for their upcoming, four-game season.
“I really enjoyed our first practice, and I believe our athletes did as well,” said CCHS peer coach Jack DeMello. “It was great to meet the students for the first time, and learn more about each and every one of them. I was extremely impressed with the enthusiasm that the athletes brought: they were ready for game time before they even stepped onto the field. I was also very impressed with the skill level and learning ability of the athletes, even though some of them had never played soccer before. That said, I think we are going to have an awesome season, and I really look forward to it. ”
The teams will play their first game at 3:45 p.m. at Culver City High School versus a team peer-coached by students from Hamilton High School. The CCHS team will also play:
Monday, November 9 vs Dorsey High School at CCHS
Monday, November 16 at Los Angeles High School
Thursday, December 3 at Venice High School
Championship games will be held on Sunday, December 12; and all games begin at 3:45 p.m.
“I hope that we get big crowds and support from the community in our home games,” said Lezcano.