The Unifying Force that is Sport

The story below comes directly from the internal Nike volunteer and donation platform, WE Portal.  Our very own Kirstin Soldevilla was recently featured!  This story of Kirstin's own love of the game, coaching and her dedication to youth has been sent to nearly 7000 employees nation-wide.  We are very proud to call Kirstin a member of the PCFC family!


Kids of all backgrounds play soccer at Portland Community Football Club, where Kirstin Soldevilla, Senior Administrative Assistant for Global Sourcing and Manufacturing Finance, is a highly dedicated volunteer coach.

Kirstin Soldevilla’s family moved around Portland a lot when she was a kid. “I was constantly changing schools and sports teams, and making new friends,” she says. It could have been discouraging to start over so many times, but instead it contributed to her independence. And with encouragement from her parents she tried new sports and even “played with the boys, especially when it came to soccer.”

Soccer became a unifying force for Kirstin that could “bring people of all ages and all walks of life out to a field at 5 am on a Saturday to score a couple of epic goals before sneaking back to the house for breakfast just as the rest of the family was waking up,” she says. It was on the field—from weekend pickup games to competitive high-school matches—that she learned “respect for others regardless of age, gender or background, and how to listen to and inspire others. To this day, some of my most powerful memories were made on the field, and were inspired by teammates, coaches, rivals and fans.”

THE ROAD TO PCFC

After college and a stint traveling, Kirstin came back to Portland with a desire to re-root herself in the community. She reached out to the Global Community Impact team for suggestions on where to volunteer; with her soccer background, Portland Community Football Club (PCFC) was a natural fit.

She’s been coaching at PCFC for 10 months now, planning practices and hauling equipment in her Subaru, as well as gaining a reputation as a “professional shoe tier, back rubber, encourager, mediator and chauffeur,” she adds.

PCFC’s goal is to offer high-quality, low-cost soccer to Portland youth, eliminating barriers to entry by asking families to pay only what they can afford. It’s a simple concept, but one Kirstin believes is much needed. “The playground is the only outlet many of these kids have to socialize outside of school, and that is not enough,” she says. “They grow up without the funds to pay for costly sports equipment, team fees or tournament registrations.”

A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO TOLERANCE AND RESPECT

PCFC is also the first youth soccer club in Portland with an open acceptance policy for LGBTQ players, coaches, staff and families. By coaching young kids with different backgrounds (many represent minority ethnic groups, and a fair number are refugees), Kirstin hopes they learn respect for each other, as well as positive communication and teamwork. “It is important to me that everyone feels they are equal and important contributors to the success of the team,” she says. “With this inclusiveness, you see the kids shine and learn to support each other. It creates a strong bond among teammates that extends beyond the soccer field.”

It’s also created great admiration of the players by Kirstin. “My favorite questions to ask them are, ‘What are you going to study in school?’ and, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up? So far, we have two lawyers, one mayor, one software engineer, a policeman, and a professional football player.”

These are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I would love to see what incredible things they achieve 20 years from now.

WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BUT THINK YOU DON’T HAVE TIME?

If you’ve thought about volunteering but aren’t sure you can commit, take this bit of advice from Kirstin: “It’s hard to allocate your free time to helping others, but once you start it is hard to stop. When you find a cause that resonates with you, you’ll end up diving in. Don’t let fear that you won’t be able to make a long-term commitment deter you. Start by doing it once a month. The positivity you will feel is unbelievable. Just get out there!”

Bonus: Nike will match your volunteer hours at $10 per hour up to $1,000 per year! “This is one of the most empowering and inspiring benefits the company offers,” says Kirstin.

ABOUT THE WE PORTAL

Every day, Nike employees create positive change in our communities around the world. The WE Portal was created to make it easier for employees to make a difference.

Through the WE Portal, you can help your community however you choose. Whether you are looking to donate money or time to the causes you care about, the WE Portal can help you tap into a world-wide network of opportunities to volunteer, donate, and initiate change.

Nike will also help you along the way. We'll match your donations to causes on the WE Portal. We'll reward your WE Portal giving account for volunteer hour you track. Because when you give to your community, Nike supports you to give your best.