Tiny Troops Soccer forges connections for military kids within the community
When Amy Schweizer married her Marine, she knew life would be different. Within years of saying "I do," they were overseas and she lost her career. So, she built a new one. A lifelong soccer player who'd even played professionally, sports were her passion. With her Master’s in Sports Management, Schweizer had interned with the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and was on her way to work for the NFL, specifically the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
But before Schweizer headed to the Sunshine State, she was finishing up her role with the Boys and Girls Club. “I was working at a job fair and [my future husband] was at the recruiting booth next to ours,” she explained. “We went out on a date and I was clear about moving to Jacksonville at the end of the year. He told me he was PCSing to California so he completely understood.”
They were married within a year.
Though her plans for her life shifted completely, she was all in on making it work. But she struggled to make a career in California and then their second move to Okinawa wasn’t a good one. “We had already had our first little guy and I was pregnant with our second one. I found myself really resenting him and our marriage. I was asking myself what I had gotten into,” she admitted.
Schweizer was looking for a way to keep busy and began contemplating offering soccer lessons to military kids when she was asked to take over for a spouse who was moving. It quickly morphed into so much more.
“I started getting creative with the whole program and it just really took off because clearly other people were needing to get out of the house as well,” she said. “ When a spouse who was helping me moved to California and couldn’t find a job, that’s when I realized we could make this official. It ignited my passion for military spouse employment. No, I couldn’t pay someone $80,000 to teach kids soccer but I could pay them and give them the opportunity to do something. We shouldn’t be confined to selling oils and candles.”
Though she was adamant about there being no shame in those roles, it was important for her to create a different path for spouses who wanted something different, like she did.
Tiny Troops Soccer was born in 2014. With lessons now available in 14 states, Guam and Japan – there’s no end in sight. The mission is to bring a safe, fun and playful activity into children’s lives while uniting the military and civilian communities together.
“We've employed over 300 spouses at this point and taught over 20,000 children,” Schweizer shared. “When I look at that, it really makes me thankful that I've been surrounded by good people who have helped me create this.”
As for the future, she’s full of goals. For one – to be the soccer program for children ages two to five on bases all over the world. Right now, they partner with a lot of off base businesses and churches. “That’s the ultimate goal so that we can provide the programming because a lot of times, it's just volunteers who have never played or know anything about soccer. It’s hard to find people who are experienced enough to teach it,” she said.
This also gives military kids the opportunity to have consistency in their lives, which can be difficult with the frequent moves. “I love that we've been able to give some stability to military kids. As we've grown and they move from base to base, a lot of times they can join us at another location. It’s one familiar thing they get to have when everything’s changing for them,” Schweizer added.
To learn more about Tiny Troops Soccer, click here.
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