When Canyon High Girls Soccer coach Scott Dement wanted to find a community outreach project for his team, the second-year coach reached out to the Anaheim Police Department.
Specifically, Dement reached out to Sgt. Bryan Janocha of the department’s Community Policing Team.
A 29-year veteran of the Anaheim PD, Janocha knows what neighborhoods could benefit from a little extra love during the holiday season.
Janocha pointed Dement and his team toward the low-income Miraloma neighborhood in east Anaheim. And on Monday, Dec. 23, dozens of Canyon High soccer players, with help from city staff and police volunteers, spent the day catering to children and families at the Miraloma Park Family Resource Center.
“Because I work with the Community Policing Team, we already work in these community centers (and) we work with a lot of these residents,” Janocha said. “We’re in these neighborhoods doing outreach, working with these kids, working with the families and so this is a way to partner with someone additional and work with them to reach out and do something special for these families two days before Christmas.”
The Comanches’ players helped the kids make Christmas crafts and handed out cupcakes.
They handed out presents that had been donated by Spark of Love and Friends Church of Anaheim.
Anaheim PD volunteers cooked up burgers and hot dogs.
“I think my job is not only to coach them but to make sure they leave Canyon as better people,” Dement said. “Giving back where they’re not asking anything in return is probably the most rewarding thing they can do.”
Having community partners, such as the soccer team, to engage with the less fortunate members of the city is beneficial to everyone involved, Janocha said.
“It’s huge,” the sergeant said. “When Scott called me, I was super excited. He was really open to anything. So I said there is this community center here. The kids will love it. The families will love it.”
A highlight of the day was the impromptu soccer clinic that broke out between the Comanches and the neighborhood kids.
With Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros and members of his command staff looking on from the sidelines, the players performed drills and participated in a friendly game of soccer with the neighborhood kids.
“It’s actually really exciting because we don’t get to do stuff like this a lot,” Canyon team captain Kylee Medlin said. “It’s kind of cool to be out here with families and spend time with people who are less fortunate than we are. It’s very big for the program. I’m thinking we can maybe make this is a tradition and keep doing it and keep giving back.”
The Comanches are big on team-building activities, Dement said.
While the team participates in a variety of team-building activities amongst themselves, the Comanches will be doing more to serve the community in the future.
“There are 64 players on our team so we have a lot of manpower to be able to fill the need in multiple areas today,” Dement said. “I know the girls have been looking forward to it. To be able to do something like this a couple of days before Christmas is very inspiring and rewarding. Hopefully they’re taking something away as well as giving today.”