COPA Champions is a program originally created from the mind of Anthony Esquivel, owner of COPA Indoor Soccer. Mr. Esquivel noticed that a large number of Hispanic youth from the local Berea neighborhood were coming to COPA to play soccer at his facility. Based on numerous conversations with the high school aged youth, he discovered that many of the bright and determined soccer enthusiasts had no plans for life beyond high school despite their many academic and social achievements. A myriad number of reasons prevented these players from exploring post-secondary degrees and Anthony’s background as a former NCAA soccer coach convinced him there was something he and the company could do to change the mindset, and lives, of these players.
Originally, COPA Champions envisioned becoming mentors and counselors to any and all students who wanted help pursuing post-secondary education. However, we quickly realized that our group didn’t have the capacity to mentor the number of Hispanic students who utilize the indoor soccer facility. Concentrating our efforts and resources, our group will partner with the head soccer coach of Berea High School’s Varsity Boy’s and Girls’ Soccer teams and help the rising juniors on each team learn more about the college application and financial aid processes, discover professional and vocational license programs, gain essential soft skills necessary for work environments, and tour local college campuses. Each COPA Champion member has vowed to either contribute their time, knowledge, and personal or organization’s resources to the students or newly created COPA Champion Advisory Board. COPA Champions’ overall objective is to create a sustained post-secondary advisory program for students in the Berea and Whitehorse Road area of Greenville that uses soccer as the catalyst for helping prepare them for productive lives beyond high school.