Catalyst Maria High School Unveils New E-Soccer Team in Celebration of National Youth Soccer Month
09/25/2020

Catalyst Maria's soccer program transitions into online gaming to keep community engaged and connected during COVID. Team looking for schools to compete with.

Online PR News – 25-September-2020 – Chicago, Illinois – In celebration of US Youth Soccer National Youth Soccer Month, Catalyst Maria High School announced today the formation of a 7-player boys E-Soccer Team. The team will compete on EA SPORTS™ FIFA 20 for PlayStation®4 (Pro Clubs mode) and is challenging other high school rivals to join a league of competition.

“This was the players’ idea,” said Jose Miguel Burgos, Catalyst Maria Head Soccer coach. “They were already competing among themselves with their neighborhood friends. So we asked how can the school get behind them, support them, and help them be successful?” Burgos arranged for the purchase of new team jerseys for the players and even procured new controllers for some of the student athletes who needed them.

Noting the importance of community to the sport of soccer, Burgos continued. “We want the players to feel that together they are part of something special even at a time when they are physically distanced. The simple act of putting on school or team colors can make a big difference whether you’re playing on a field or a digital platform. At the same time, it provides me an opportunity to strengthen the teacher-student relationship with the kids.”

Earlier this summer, the Illinois High School Association’s (IHSA) announced the modified athletics schedule for the 2020-21 academic year. Boys’ soccer was among the fall sports shifting its season to spring leaving many sports programs to pursue alternative options to keep student athletes engaged.

“We know that to teach minds we must also touch hearts,” said Gordon Hannon, CEO of Catalyst Schools. “To do this effectively right now, we need to expand our notion of the classroom. Representing the school digitally provides an opportunity for students to connect to the Catalyst values and school spirit at a time when our face to face interactions are limited.”

Students surveyed what was already occurring to determine which digital platforms would have the widest adoption at low or no additional cost to players. It was determined that FIFA 20 by EA SPORTS™ for PlayStation 4® was the right starting platform.

Enthusiasm for the launch of the team is tempered because it is not all-inclusive across the student population. Coach Burgos sees it as an opportunity to begin broader conversations around inclusion and equity not only within the school and within the sport of soccer, but also more broadly as it pertains to access to opportunities in underinvested communities.

While the inaugural team and league formation is on PlayStation 4® its possible competition could grow on additional platforms. If excitement continues, Burgos even sees possibilities beyond just FIFA. “Of course we want to be on the soccer field. But, the students are learning a valuable lesson about responding to adversity by adapting” said Coach Burgos.

“I am online playing FIFA almost every day, but especially now because of COVID. I really like the game. I am excited to represent the school, play with my friends, and compete online against other high schools in Chicago or anywhere, really,” stated scholar Jason Zamora, captain of the team.

High school coaches interested in learning more about how to create a team and join the existing league are encouraged to contact Coach Jose Miguel Burgos at jburgos@catalystschools.org

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About Catalyst Maria High School
Catalyst Maria Charter School is a dynamic, vibrant school community serving Kindergarten-12th Grade in Chicago's Chicago Lawn neighborhood! Catalyst Maria is guided by a mission of providing college-preparatory and values-based education that allows scholars to thrive in their academic and social-emotional growth. At Catalyst Maria, a child is holistically educated by a school community committed to “Teaching minds and touching hearts.” This mission aims to nurture well-rounded scholars with bright academic, professional, and personal futures that will become change agents for their communities and world. For more information, visit catalystschools.org/maria

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