Ava Lubash’s UKSD Journey
As Ava Lubash completes her senior year at Barnstable High School (BHS), her final months will be filled with reflections about teachers, counselors, coaches, and friends who were part of her many memorable experiences. But one experience that began when she was in eighth grade has become woven into Ava’s world. She will carry it with her far beyond her high school graduation.
After four years as a participant in United Kidz Sports Development (UKSD), this year Ava is launching a new role in the organization as an intern. The leadership position will provide her with a steppingstone to becoming a UKSD ambassador when she begins her college career.
Ava first met Doc Docherty when he coached her BHS soccer team. “Being on the team just went hand in hand with UKSD,” she said. Looking back at Ava’s years with UKSD, it is no surprise that her deep connectedness has only grown. The concept of teaching social issues through the sport of soccer resonated with Ava, especially because it was not necessarily through the spoken word as much as it was about modeling through actions.
Without hesitation, Ava expressed that her most impactful experience with UKSD has been visiting Hyannis West Elementary School to play games or read with students in the after-school program. “This fall I had a lot going on in my life, but the second I got there nothing else mattered,” Ava remarked. The word amazing came up more than once when she described the kids she worked with. Despite many students speaking different languages and managing difficult challenges in their home lives, when they were immersed in the positivity of UKSD activities, all that faded away. Seeing the impression made by something as simple as a soccer game compelled Ava to discover more.
That yearning to delve deeper into the UKSD energy originated from Ava’s sense of passion. “I consider myself a very passionate person. When I can’t do something about putting that passion somewhere, I get frustrated,” she explained. UKSD has provided Ava with a niche for her passion.
In her internship, Ava now feels she has endless opportunities. The seed was planted last year when she was working with Doc to find space for a mindfulness room at the high school – a place for students to “go chill out.” That is still a work in progress, but it has evolved into Ava collaborating with Doc to brainstorm, discuss, and plan in other areas. “Doc believes in student led brainstorming, so I feel like a partner,” Ava relayed. As a result of their joint efforts to make the high school the best it can be for all, Doc and Ava were asked to serve on a visioning team, sharing their philosophy even beyond UKSD.
Although Ava has not yet traveled out of the country on UKSD trips, she hopes to go with a group to Bosnia in March. In the meantime, she has begun to build a new relationship in Kenya from a distance. Ava noted that, “Doc is a master networker and makes connections everywhere.” That has created a path for her to connect with Eve, a peer in Kenya. In step with UKSD’s strong focus on developing greater engagement and opportunities for girls, Ava plans to work with Eve to bring that initiative to a new location.
With college just around the corner, Ava’s experience as an intern will allow her to continue her journey with UKSD from afar. Moving from participant to intern is preparing her for an ambassador role next year. Ava’s goal as an ambassador is to be able to host events while at college. After five years in UKSD, she understands the number one priority Doc has modeled – to make sure everyone is safe, and everyone is happy. “He shows the humanitarian side,” she said. “No matter where Doc is, everyone is treated the same. We can come from different worlds, yet we still can connect.” That is a message Ava is ready to carry forward.