Trozinski brought Randolph soccer skills to South Africa – Daily Record
Teddy Trozinski was doing all the usual senior year stuff. He finished his last soccer season at Randolph, committed to the University of Colorado’s engineering program on May 1, and graduated on June 18. But when most of his friends were packing and heading off to college, Trozinski and his suitcases headed to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to start a gap year.
Instead of sitting in classrooms and studying for exams, the 18-year-old spent six weeks coaching soccer and teaching classes for United Through Sport. The international nonprofit tries to use athletics to make a positive difference in young lives, helping kids dream bigger while also building individual skills like leadership, decision making, responsibility, and coping with pressure.
One of 34 volunteers from all over the world, Trozinski coached 90-minute soccer sessions at three schools each day â starting with a warmup game of tag, then basic soccer drills, and “end with a full-on match.”
United Through Sport works with about 18,000 kids each year.
“You don’t care if they end up being the next Messi or Neymar or Ronaldo,” Trozinski said. “The end goal is to get them out of the classroom and engage them and teach them what a healthy lifestyle looks like. … They’re so excited, it makes your day every time. They admire you to the Nth degree.”
Domineque Scott, the Mass Participation program manager in South Africa, remembers Trozinski as young and anxious when he first arrived, but “always upbeat.” He always had his camera handy, and documented the volunteer experience. Trozinski was caught off guard by the level poverty he witnessed, but “there was no hopelessness” in the kids, who took advantage of what was available.
Once a week, the volunteers would help the teachers at Emzomncane Primary School. Trozinski taught English, math, and natural sciences, recalling when he created a game to help the students learn the difference between conductors and insulators. Volunteers were able to recommend particularly motivated students for United Through Sport’s Junior School of Excellence, which provides extra academic help and can set them on a path toward higher education.
“He left as a different person,” said Scott, a former United through Sport volunteer who grew up in Delaware. “You just have to cope. You have to be flexible and adaptable, because it’s all they have. You only have an hour and a half to bring them the best experience they can have.”
Trozinski went on to help track elephants at the Makalali Game Reserve for five weeks, returning home just before Thanksgiving. He worked at Timbil Mechanical in Boonton while planning the second half of his gap year, likely helping out on farms in New Zealand, while also visiting Cambodia or Vietnam.
“Even though I haven’t spent a night at my university, I feel like I know what to expect now,” Trozinski said. “If I had gone (straight) to college, I wouldn’t have known anything. I would’ve gone along for the ride. … There’s a track you’re supposed to follow, and a lot of parents will enforce the track. If you break that path and do things because it’s what you want to do, it’ll help you sometimes. That’s what I’ve done this year.”
Staff Writer Jane Havsy: 973-428-6682; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dailyrecord.com/writerjane/