At this same time last year, I was balancing a part-time job with 6 Stones against a host of duties at a major radio station in Dallas. I had an on-air shift at a top-ten station in a top-five market. I was living my dream. But I wasn't happy there.
I left a promising position in the broadcast world to write full-time here at 6 Stones because HEB is my home. These people are my people. We have enough journalists writing about celebrities and politics. I wanted to tell the stories that we've neglected. Stories of strong women, inspiring men, and children whose dreams help to transform their community. Leaving radio to tell these stories was the best decision of my life. I love what I do because everything that happens here is a beautiful picture of the way the world is meant to be. But there's a special place in my heart for one program, in particular: Liga HEB.
Liga HEB is an intramural soccer initiative run in partnership with the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District; the district I grew up in. This program was launched in 2010, when principals in junior high schools across HEB realized that a portion of their student population was underperforming, in large part, because they were unattached to and uninterested in school. Our district is diverse: we speak 74 languages and hail from 119 nations. 54% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. One in four are raised in poverty. Many of our children are still learning English, and all of them need a place to belong. So we built one for them.
I took over the league in December of 2015, and I loved every second of that first season. That's why I'm so excited to share the plans we have for next year!
In 2017, we will be working with all kinds of partners – The FC Dallas Foundation, The Soccer Corner, the school district, a bunch of local businesses, and an even bigger bunch of local churches – to create a system of support that not only covers the costs of the league, but also engages the students. Teachers and administrators around the district have already told us that this program makes a difference for at-risk students every year. Their grades go up, their behavior improves, and they have a reason to look forward to school. This year, we're developing even more reliable metrics for evaluating our league and the impact it has on students. We’re building a character curriculum, working toward a team adoption process, and securing sponsorship funds to set up a lasting infrastructure for Liga HEB.
But first, we need to get these students equipped for success. It's been years since we replaced the uniforms in this league, and we currently don't have enough for every player on each of 6 team rosters. Substitutions are a slow and intricate process because players have to peel off their jerseys and hand them to the next player in line. There's no room for that in the professional environment we're building. To replace those uniforms, we need to raise $6,000 before we kick off the 2017 season in January. I'm working hard to find corporate sponsors and grant funding, but I want to give YOU a place to jump in and help. Please consider helping these students succeed by joining the #10for90 campaign.
In soccer, you play for 90 minutes, and every minute counts. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we expect around 90 players in Liga HEB next season. I am asking you to consider giving a gift of $10 to help those 90. Larger gifts are welcome, but I want our success to be about engaging people more than generating funds. If you give, please invite others to join you by sharing this post with the hashtag #10for90 on your social media accounts. Tell your friends why you gave, and encourage them to join you! You can also give anonymously, if that’s more your style. Whatever you decide, I hope that you will pray for 6 Stones and as we seek to transform the lives of our neighbors right here at home.
Thank you for helping me provide a safe and encouraging environment for our youth. Please reach out with questions.
Steven A Jones, Storyteller / Liga HEB Commissioner