A Love Beyond the Sport

After months of preparation and training, a growing, local soccer team claims their first victory with the help of their coach, Lalo Ramirez. This Sunday tournament was filled with strategizing, encouraging words, and lots of team effort. The Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team dedicated their entire afternoon to the tournament.

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Head Coach of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team, Lalo Ramirez, prepares for the team’s tournament. Ramirez picks up any players that don’t have access to transportation to take them to practices and tournaments. Ramirez coaches practices nearly every day including weekends. Most Sundays, the team plays tournaments and competes with other schools. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia. (Photo/Angelina Lewis)

To Ramirez, it isn’t about winning. Their love for soccer is more than staying fit. It’s freedom. It’s a whole new world that serves as an outlet for the boys. The team provides community, goals to strive for and a way for self-improvement.

“Seeing my boys trying their best and improving is what makes it worth it,” said Ramirez.

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Head Coach Lalo Ramirez appointed his eldest player, Carlos Lavariega, to be co-captain of the Good Shepherd Catholic Chuch soccer team. Throughout the game, they took turns leading the team. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia. (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Lalo Ramirez leads his team to victory and encourages the players along the way. Pictured from left to right is Edwin Ramirez, Oscar Alvarado, and Lalo Ramirez. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Ramirez guides his team every step of the way. From left to right is Lalo Ramirez and Jeremy Helmer of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Ramirez encourages his team to keep playing their hardest. Every break was spent strategizing as a team and encouraging one another. From left to right is co-captain, Carlos Lavariega, Jonathan Ramirez, Lalo Ramirez, Diego Silva, Oscar Alvarado, and Eduin Cruz of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Ramirez provides coolers of water and drinks for his players at each tournament. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia (Photo/Angelina Lewis)

Each boy played their hearts out with not just a love for the sport but for community, for each other, for brotherhood and for becoming closer as a team.

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Ramirez encourages his team to keep playing their hardest. From left to right center players are Lalo Ramirez, Oscar Alvarado, and Johnathan Ramirez of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia    (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Each player was treated with respect and given individual feedback and encouragement. Ramirez made himself available for each player to come to him for advice throughout the entire game. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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Lalo Ramirez volunteers and serves his community as not only a coach, but a leader. After the Good Shepherd Catholic Church soccer team won their tournament, Ramirez took the players out for tacos at a local stand nearby. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Hazlehurst, Georgia.       (Photo/Angelina Lewis)
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