One of Coastal Outreach Soccer’s first participants recently crossed the graduation stage and returned home with a college degree and a plan to continue supporting the program that’s lifted him up.
Jaelin Williams graduated in May from Fisk University with a degree in business management. While at Fisk, he played for the school’s collegiate soccer team.
He’s working now with Coastal Outreach Soccer as the program’s STEM director while looking forward to future opportunities to play soccer.
Williams is one of several COS alumni who’ve attended Fisk University, and he’s the second among the original group of COS players to graduate from college.
While injuries and COVID-19 created some interruptions in play opportunities at Fisk, Williams has also had the chance in recent years to play for the Bahamas men’s national team.
Reflecting on the past several years, Williams said he’s grown as both a player and leader. He’s excited to continue serving as a mentor for COS players.
“I know that it’s not just for me, but it’s basically paving the way for the younger COS players, showing them that we all grew up here, we all came up through this program and now this is one of the final results,” he said. “This is something that you can accomplish and achieve.”
As STEM director, Williams helps build some of COS’s academic programming, which is paired with soccer to create a holistic enrichment program for students.
COS was founded in 2004 with the goal of helping students graduate from high school and be prepared for future success. The program has grown and expanded over the years through community partnerships and donors but has maintained its core mission of serving students through athletics and academics.
Williams encouraged the community to continue supporting the program.
“It works,” he said.
His father, Shawn Williams, founder of COS and executive director for the program, said his son’s recent accomplishment is the kind of success that’s been envisioned for COS participants since the beginning.
“When we started this program in 2004, we were looking ahead to see how our interaction and development, giving young men a good support system, how that would impact their lives,” he said. “We had the goal of having them graduate from high school while giving them an opportunity to play collegiate soccer and then also ultimately attain their degree and reduce the cost of that education experience through academic and athletic scholarships.”
This is further evidence that the approach COS takes will lead to success for participants, he said.
“This is a moment for our program that we are very proud of,” Shawn Williams said. “The goals and missions are being fulfilled by these student athletes.”