This week’s Whiz Kids are a group of seven Danvers youths who played an integral role in Danvers Youth Soccer’s sixth annual this past weekend, Saturday November 12 through Sunday November 13.
Sam Chambers, Drew Larsen, Ethan Smith, all 16, Matt Kidney, 15, Patrick Duffill, 13 and 12-year-olds Max DiBiase and Emily Smith are all involved in the Danvers Youth Soccer Program, as players who also referee games. They are typically paid per diem, but in the spirit of the Festival, these youngsters donated their time and officiated the games for free, which will help provide shipping costs for Operation Troop Support care packages and gifts going overseas to our soldiers this holiday season.
Ethan Smith, a junior at, has volunteered for the past three DSSF events. “He said that it is a good feeling to help because if he were a soldier stationed overseas it would make him very proud knowing that complete strangers were thinking about him at the holiday and sending him gifts,” said Tracy Smith, his mother.
Danvers High School sophomore Sam Chambers explained, "Veterans Day is the day we honor everyone who had fought for our country, and we thank them for all of their hard work." Matt Kidney, who is also a sophomore at Danvers High said, "There are men and women that have fought and are still fighting for this country. Veteran's Day is an important day where we can honor those men and women." Drew Larson, agreed, adding, "This is my third year volunteering to referee in the Danvers Soccer Saluting Soldiers Festival. It's a lot of fun to work with the younger kids and help them to learn how to play the game."
Affectionately known as “,” this weekend soccer tournament began six years ago as a collaboration between DYS and Operation Troop Support. Since then, the event has grown in popularity and been hugely successful due to the participation and generosity of all the volunteers and local businesses.
The festival hosted 46 teams from 17 towns, a total of over 550 players, with all proceeds donated to Danvers based Operation Troop Support. In total there were a total of 21 referees, with 11 from Danvers, the 8 youths and 4 adults, as well as 2 more young referees from Woburn and North Andover.
According to Janet Gargan, who assigns referees for the tournament, and has been the director with DYS Board President Jeff Chambers for all five years, this particular tournament has yielded over $35,000 in the past 5 years.
As for the youths donating their time and money to this cause? "It's great that the adults give their reffing pay to OTS, but kids don't have other jobs to make money so when they give it to OTS they are giving everything they are making," she said. "They should be commended for the example they are setting by giving up their hard earned dollars."
Whiz Kids: Samuel Chambers, Andrew Larsen, Ethan Smith, Matthew Kidney, Patrick Duffill, Max DiBiase and Emily Smith.
Whiz Kids Age: Samuel Chambers, 16 Andrew Larsen,16, Ethan Smith, 16 Matthew Kidney, 15 Patrick Duffill, 13 Max DiBiase, 12and Emily Smith, 12.
Whiz Kids Accomplishment: Volunteered their weekend to officiate the soccer games at the Saluting Soldiers Tournament, which will help Operation Troop Support ship packages and gifts overseas to our troops for the holidays.
Whiz Kid's Perspective:
“The soldiers overseas are willing to sacrifice their life so that the world can be a safer place for everyone, so everyone should be appreciative and give support in any way they can.” ~Ethan Smith
"Volunteering is a way of giving back to the community. It is a way of helping others to support a good cause." ~Sam Chambers
"Volunteering is a way that I can show my gratitude to all the men and women that have made many sacrifices to protect this country." ~Matt Kidney
"It's a true honor to support our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."~ Drew Larsen