Our story all begins with Will Trippley, a compassionate, goofy, and dedicated son and friend. Will had this unique ability to adapt to every situation. He was incredibly bright and talented, eventually earned himself a full soccer scholarship to the prestigious Shipley School and Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Everyone who knew Will knew that he was looking out for them. Unfortunately, prevalent gun violence in the Chester community claimed Will’s life too soon.
In 2007, the Will Trippley Youth Development Foundation formed out of the loss, grief, and passion of his mother, Patricia and best friend, Neal Regino, to grant the Chester community a haven and enriching environment where kids could just be kids. Our Foundation hopes to carve out sacred spaces in our towns where children are free to be challenged, express themselves, and please provide them with the tools to thrive for a promising future. Based physically in Chester, PA our Foundation is composed of two parts; a soccer program Chester City United/FIFA Academy and a social-emotional development program, Camp Encouragement.
Like the kids in our program, Will had so much potential to offer the rest of his community. We continue to cherish Will’s memory, hoping to keep his legacy living on, teaching, and working with the children whose curiosity and passion reflect the spirit of Will.
Chester City United
Determined not to let his best friend die in vain, Neal wanted to develop a youth soccer program like the ones that Will joined both as a player and a volunteer. In 2009, Chester City United formed through collaboration with the Philadelphia Union, the Boys and Girls Club of Chester, Chester City Department of Recreation, and the Chester Youth Collaborative. In 2013, we had our first ever soccer summer camp dedicated to promoting teamwork and a healthy lifestyle. By 2014, we expanded the program beyond the Camp to include after-school programs and weekend games.
From 2019, David Brown, another friend of Will’s, took over as president of the Foundation and head coach for Chester City United. He has since molded the program into what it is today. All kids learn according to the Spanish method and his training centers on fostering a “growth mindset” – a term coined by Psychologist Carol Dweck (Animated FESPI Video). The approach provides children an ability to engage with, rather than run from their mistakes and challenges, praising the children in the core “FESPI” areas – Focus, Effort, Strategy, Practice, and Improvement.
We are so proud of what our soccer program has grown into the last decade and excited to keep moving forward in the future!
Will’s death and the years following were understandably extremely distressing to his family. Following a dark time and seeking to provide a counseling opportunity for other families dealing with loss, Will’s mother and our chairperson, Pat went back school to get her master’s degree and developed the model for Camp Encouragement.
Camp Encouragement has evolved significantly over the past five years; initially starting as three half-day sessions out of the Ruth L Bennett Center, to five full days out of Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, into the first-ever virtual Camp which included Chester and the surrounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. In the past, the children have participated in a variety of enriching creative experiences, including yoga, chess, journaling, and horseback riding.
Any child who has experienced a loss is welcome in the Camp to share, learn, and express their pain in the safety of their peers, understanding that they can eventually move from darkness into the light. As the heart and soul of the Foundation, Pat also participates in these counseling sessions hoping to show the children that even after everything, she is still here and she is still standing.
We try to teach our children how to be adaptable and deal with the curveballs that life throws them, as we try to do the same. As of spring 2020, we have moved both of our programs online for the foreseeable future. As much as we love seeing our kids in person, we are so grateful for this opportunity, and as Pat puts it, God has enlarged our territory!
Virtual Fútbol Academy
Wanting to keep the game going, Coach David came up with an innovative solution to take soccer online. Our Virtual Fútbol Academy combines the meeting program Zoom and the FIFA video game (something all kids can undoubtedly appreciate). It allows the players to continue to train from home with their team. We find this approach helps to teach players the techniques and tactics of soccer while continuing to build on their problem-solving and collaboration skills. We look forward to introducing a hybrid program, featuring both the physical training as well as the virtual component for a more rounded approach to the sport!
Virtual Camp Encouragement
This year, our first virtual Camp Encouragement was a huge success! After just a short time of advertising, Pat immediately kicked it into high gear, recruiting a wide range of kids aged 6 to 16 years old. Children were connected with mentors around the world as they engaged in art lessons led by Will’s friend, Brian Halloran, and creative writing therapy by Professor Jade Jones. This year was also unique in that it was the first year to feature counseling from Israel, led by Shimon Radovsky, LSW. We have high hopes for this coming September’s Camp, and are excited to reach even more children around the planet!