Tenant Spotlight: Beyond Soccer
Beyond Soccer is truly a success story. This non-profit; which now has over 2,000 active kids in Lawrence Massachusetts, started very humbly. Founder & Executive Director Stephanie McCardle just wanted to make a difference. A former soccer star and 2 time captain for the University of Michigan Women’s soccer team, she knew the positive impact sports had in her life. In 2006, she started the Wolves soccer team with just 12 girls. Within a few years, hundreds of kids were involved and the program’s goals were expanded to incorporate more than just learning athletics. Today’s program is not only focused on soccer, but incorporates; nutrition, education, team building and leadership development.
Stephanie emphasizes this quote in her approach to Beyond Soccer; “There is power in sports. Once you have the kid’s attention with sports, you can influence them in many other positive ways.”
Along for the ride is Operations Manager Johnny Noel, whose commitment and background in business has taken Beyond Soccer from those initial 12 girls and turned it into a thriving non-profit that services thousands of kids.
Beyond Soccer’s goals and achievements continue to grow. Currently, they have an extensive travel team, winter & summer cooking classes, Wednesday tutoring nights, college/career assistance and a five-week summer camp.
According to Stephanie, the advantages of being at Riverwalk are: it provides great space to teach their cooking and nutrition classes, also many of the kids are joining Flow Fitness; Riverwalk’s on-site state of the art fitness center. Additionally, with Riverwalk’s huge list of tenants, this provides Beyond Soccer with excellent network opportunities.
Q&A with Stephanie:
Q. Who are your role models, and why? How did they influence your work?
A. I looked up to Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm, as leaders on that first U.S. Women’s World Cup Championship Team in 1991. It was exciting to watch, as those talented, and influential soccer players paved the way for thousands of young girls who hadn’t dreamed like that before, but my day-to-day motivation was instilled by my parents. My dad, who passed the bar when I was 2 years old, continues to work 60-hour work weeks, fighting for individual and employee rights as a defense attorney. That influenced both my soccer career at the University of Michigan and the work that eventually led to the launch of Beyond Soccer, 11 years later.
Q. Have you won any awards?
A. Dream Big!, Admiration Award, 2016
YWCA Tribute to Women Award, 2014
Mass Youth Soccer, Administrator of the Year, 2014
Q. What is your favorite part about your work?
A. Getting to know the families we serve. I get invited to quinceñeras, birthdays, graduations, and other family events. They start to think of us as extended family. That is really special to me, and continues to motivate our work.