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Lowell PattenHeads up, Lowell!
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Jose Stantibanez and Herb SellersJose Stantibanez of Triangle United Soccer and Herb Sellers, chairman of the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League
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Brie ButlerDurham police officer Brie Butler, head coach of the Club Boulevard Elementary team, talks to her players during halftime
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Goal kick!Goal kick!
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David ReyesDavid Reyes, coach of the Holt Elementary team, instructs one of his players on proper throw-in technique
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throw inI think she's got it...
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throw in 2...yeah, she's got it.
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Sellers, Alex Merrill and Erwin BakerHerb Sellers, Duke soccer player and volunteer ref Alex Merrill and Erwin Baker of the Durham Police Athletic League
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Club Boulevard playersThe Club Boulevard team defends its goal
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Lowell Patten and Steven BalbosaLowell Patten, 10, and Steven Balbosa, 8, hone their skills on the sideline
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Lowell PattenHeads up, Lowell!
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Chelsy HuertaChelsy Huerta, 10, shows perfect form on this corner kick
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Coach ButlerCoach Butler watches the action intently
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Coach ReyesCoach Reyes congratulates his team after the game
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hand shake lineAh, the time-honored tradition. Goodgame, goodgame, goodgame, goodgame...
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Temi Molinar, Chase Keesling and Alex MerrillDuke soccer players Temi Molinar, Chase Keesling and Alex Merrill officiated the games
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David Reyes, Roberto Majia and GiovanniCoach Reyes with Holt goaltender Roberto Majia, 11, his son, Giovanni, 10
Jose Stantibanez and Herb Sellers
throw in 2
Sellers, Alex Merrill and Erwin Baker
Club Boulevard players
Lowell Patten and Steven Balbosa
hand shake line
Temi Molinar, Chase Keesling and Alex Merrill
David Reyes, Roberto Majia and Giovanni
The sounds of a thumping soccer ball, parents cheering and coaches shouting both instruction and encouragement are all-too-common on Saturday mornings across the country.
What makes the games played at C.C. Spaulding Elementary this weekend different is what happens after the whistle blows, the juice boxes are downed and the kids go home.
"One of our officers was out on patrol, and he happens to coach the soccer team that has a lot of kids in that neighborhood," said Offier Erwin Baker of the Durham Police Athletic League, one of the co-organizers of the league.
"He saw a bunch of young people gathered around. Most of the time, he'd be met with a cold shoulder. But this time, one of the parents came out and said, 'That's my son's soccer coach. He's OK.'"
Because police officers help out with coaching, it allows the players, as well as their parents and older siblings, to see the police as friends instead of foes.
The free soccer league, as well as the baseball and basketball programs co-run by PAL and DBYAL, have 500 participants altogether. That's 500 kids who not only will be more likely to reach out to a police officer if they need help, but also 500 kids that now have a positive activity to enjoy.
And they do enjoy it. Players representing Holt and Club Boulevard elementary schools houted at each other excitedly as the ball made its way from one end of the field to the other. Squeals and hugs followed the goals. (Herb Sellers, DBYAL chairman, said the league doesn't keep score, but that doesn't prevent the teams themselves from doing so.)
The eight other participating schools are: Burton, C.C. Spaulding, Eastway, Merrick Moore, Morehead, R.N. Harris, W.G. Pearson, and YE Smith.
This Saturday will mark the last game of the season, which will be followed by a celebratory pizza party.
See our slideshow for pics of last Saturday's match, and some of the good people who made it happen.