Indy Eleven players pose with George Julian students. “E-L-E! V-E-N!”

George W. Julian School 57 students start the famous chant as the Indy Eleven soccer players enter the gym. This appearance by the players is the first of eleven at Indianapolis Public Schools with Indianapolis’s professional soccer team.

Indy Eleven players Jaime Frias and Erick Norales and coach Paul Telfer shared their stories with the George W. Julian students and stressed the importance of education even when playing sports.

“Take advantage of school,” Frias said. “Get good grades and be good students.”

“Sports is often a short career,” Telfer said. “Only a small percentage of players go on to play professionally. So it’s important to focus on your studies. Listen to your teachers and study hard.”

George W. Julian fifth grade student Kevin F. was excited to see the Indy Eleven players at his school and hopes to go to one of their games soon. He really liked what the players had to say in their stories.

“They helped us understand we need our education too if we want to become professional athletes,” Kevin said.

“This series of school assemblies will allow our players the chance to make a meaningful impact on hundreds of children, many of whom will see a little bit of themselves in the stories that our players share with them,” said Indy Eleven President/General Manager Peter Wilt.

Over 50 percent of the student population at George W. Julian is Latino; therefore, Norales, a Honduran native, shared his story in Spanish for the Spanish-speaking students in the audience. This allowed students the chance to connect with a player on a deeper level.

Along with sharing their stories, the players also demonstrated soccer skills and had several students show off their soccer knowledge and moves.

“It was exciting to watch famous soccer players show their tricks,” Oscar L. said. “Especially when they did the rainbow,” Thomas M. added. The rainbow is where the players take the ball and flip it over their heads using only their feet.

“We’re thrilled our students had the opportunity to meet our city’s soccer team,” George W. Julian Principal Debra Ashley said. “Soccer is a sport that our children love because it’s exciting and fun. It’s easy to learn and promotes teamwork.”

“Indy Eleven prides itself on establishing relationships across the community that can make a real difference,” said Guy-Jo Gordon, Indy Eleven Director of Community Relations. “We’re thrilled that our players have the opportunity to share the experiences that have made them professionals both on and off the field with children across the IPS system in the hopes it will inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams.”

Frias and Telfer stressed just that in their talks with the students.

“Never have a doubt in yourself,” Frias said. “Anyone can be a soccer player if you work for it.”

“Love sports, get involved with sports, but love education on top of sports,” Telfer said.

We are proud of our work with Indy Eleven and excited for the expansion of our partnership! E-L-E! V-E-N!

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