Soccer Videos Connect Norton Fellow to Local Kids

To help Hartford-area children develop soccer skills despite the pandemic, senior Eamon Moylan has created a series of training videos focusing on at-home skills development for school-aged kids and shared them with local organizations dedicated to youth engagement, recreation, and education.

“Footy at Home,” as the video series and accompanying website are called, offers nine short instructional films explaining and demonstrating soccer drills that kids can do using spaces and items around the house. Featuring upbeat music and encouraging advice, the videos are designed to help children work on their ball skills even when team play is not possible.

Eamon created the series, with help from several fellow Pelicans, as part of his Norton Fellowship, a community engagement program administered by Loomis Chaffee’s Norton Family Center for the Common Good. A soccer aficionado, Eamon has played in numerous youth leagues and on various teams since he was a small child and is now a leader on the Loomis boys varsity soccer team.

Eamon said the project was inspired by the positive interactions he’d had with young kids from Hartford as a volunteer in a mentoring program through his church and as a lifeguard in a town recreation program.

“I got to be really good friends with some of the kids,” Eamon said, adding that he had hoped to make more connections though his Norton Fellowship project.

Eamon’s original plan for the project, which he proposed in early March of last year, was to host underserved Hartford children at a soccer skills camp during the summer of 2020. When spring and summer brought the widespread shutdown of schools and other community activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camp had to be canceled.

“I was just hoping things with the coronavirus would get better [last spring] and that there would be a window where I could the run the camp as I had planned. It was disappointing for sure,” Eamon said.

Eamon pivoted to “Footy at Home” as a way to still connect with kids and organizations that support young people in the community, and to fulfill his commitment to the Norton Fellowship. He said he hoped to at least offer the kids a fun activity they could safely enjoy.

The instructional videos were filmed on campus in September when day students were able to return to Loomis for in-person classes. Senior Declan Coyle filmed and edited videos of Eamon demonstrating the drills and then set up the “Footy at Home” website so anyone can access the video series. Senior Lauren Morrissey, a member of the girls varsity soccer team, and junior Will Cleary, Eamon’s soccer teammate, also appear in the videos.

Eamon said he was happy with how the project turned out, but there were times when he was discouraged, including when he had to re-think his original idea because of the pandemic.

“I learned to focus on controlling what I could control,” Eamon said, noting that he will likely continue to find this skill useful.

He also had to get comfortable asking others for help and learn to shake off discouragement when people weren’t interested or able to help him with his project. He said he especially appreciated the support he received from people in the Loomis community, including Eric LaForest, Keller Family Director of the Norton Family Center for the Common Good, who helped him work though ideas and make community connections; his faculty advisor, Joe Cleary, who helped him persevere; boys varsity soccer coach David Malloy, who lent his expertise; faculty members Lilian and Andrew Hutchinson, who connected him with local youth soccer organizations; and faculty member Andris Briga, who works in the Information Technology Department and allowed him to use one the school’s video cameras.

When the videos were complete, Eamon reached out to local organizations that he thought might be interested in the videos for their clientele and sent them a link to the “Footy at Home” website. Several responded with positive feedback.

Lynn Pantuosco-Hensch, a licensed soccer coach with United Soccer Coaches who works with youth leagues, wrote to Eamon in an email, which he shared: “… [Y]our instruction and demonstrations are spot on. And the scope and length of each video are very appropriate for youth players. A lot of nice touches with the technology skills as well. I really appreciate seeing high school students take the initiative to create something, as well as learn to coach.”

Eric commented on Eamon’s patience and determination in working to make lemonade out of lemons throughout the project.

“Even the most straightforward community engagement project necessitates a full measure of flexibility and patience, but, wow, Eamon took on a project that required a great deal of both,” he said.

Connect to the “Footy at Home” website page. 

For more about the Norton Fellows and other center activities, connect to the Norton Family Center for the Common Good page of the Loomis Chaffee website.