The History of Guys/Girls Operating as Leaders. 

The GOAL Program is turning 10 years old! The year 2020 will mark a decade of service to English Language Learners and At-Risk students. The program's inception was at Carroll McMath Middle School in Denton, TX. Cofounders Jake Arnold and Chris Ice had no idea in 2010 that this unique brand of student service would inspire not only students but an entire community.


In the beginning, The GOAL Program was a lunchtime meeting with students; involving worksheets on topics regarding character building and healthy habits. The kids hated it. The message was important, but the delivery had no appeal. Something much, much more engaging was necessary to create school Buy-In from kids who felt left out. Among a predominantly Hispanic student population, the answer was soccer! 


We had found our Carrot. Soccer filled the void. After school practice became the highlight of the students’ day. Not only was this a healthy platform, but also unique and culturally responsive. There was no middle school soccer program in the area that was not Pay for Play, and UIL soccer did not begin until high school. As a result, student behavior and grades improved - dramatically. Interest in the program exploded. And what began as one after school soccer club, became a league of young men, women, and coaches across North Texas.


As the GOAL Program grew, so did the vision. More teams meant more educators, coaches, and community partnerships. The greater diversity of mentors brought about even more powerful student enrichment. Community Service was the next extension of GOAL. Each chapter, or team, was required to provide a service project. These projects took on myriad formats such as: cleanups, supporting local food pantries, working at animal shelters, reading to preschool children, coat drives, and many more. Now, the community at large views GOAL students as Stakeholders.


Detractors claimed we overly emphasized athleticism. As a response, GOAL began to offer weekly tutoring along with mentoring. Then an opportunity presented itself to create student authors in addition to student-athletes. Thanks to Jake Arnold and Fin Press Publications, the GOAL Program now has 6 Volumes of self-published, student testimonials. These anthologies are rich in their sincerity and commentary, each one a sign-of-the-times, and so critical to the empowerment of Second Language Learners.  


The next GOAL evolution was providing support for program alumni beyond high school. Veteran Coach - Adriana Gillilan - developed the Creating Opportunities Providing Advancement, or COPA Conference, with community partner North Central Texas College. Now a yearly seminar prepares students and parents for what to expect in college or career possibilities. This was an exciting addition to the GOAL Scholarship program which has rewarded alumni with over $20K in scholarships over the past 9 years. 


The 10th Anniversary of the Guys/Girls Operating as Leaders Program would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers, the commitment of Community Partners, and School Leaders willing to take risks. Our network of student service extends from elementary school to college. This organization teacher created and operated. We are also proud to be featured in Texas School Business magazine (2016) and an honorable mention from the National School Board Association Magna Award (2017). We promise the next 10 years will provide an even greater benefit to Family, School, and Community. 




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