The Ontario Conference Bill Prest Community Service Award is given to a player each season that demonstrates the desire to make his community a better place.
Despite the 2020 on field season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic several CJFL players continued to make it a priority to serve their community. Hundreds of volunteer hours were accounted for in the last 12 months across all 18 teams.
The London Beefeaters saw a rookie rise to the top of their volunteerism here in 2020 as Dylan Soares not only made statement on the field in practice, but off it in the community as well. The most interesting part of the story is that Soares has never played a down of tackle football in his life, but that didn’t stop him from coaching flag football and helping out with minor football every chance he got. For his tremendous spirit of giving back he was named the Bill Prest Community Service Award winner.
Here is his nomination form submitted by the Beefeaters to be named the CJFL Past Commissioners Award winner.
In August when we found out we wouldn’t be playing the organization was obviously disappointed. A few days following the cancellation the organizer for the London Minor Football Association contacted former Beefeaters’ head coach Jesse Maddox to ask if there were extra players to coach the kids league. Soares saw the opportunity when Maddox posted it on the team group chat, and he immediately contacted in head coach to say he was interested. Soares liked the opportunity to help those who were fortunate enough to still play even though it was flag football and not tackle. That said the opportunity was difficult to pass up and he wanted to help these kids be better. So he put up his hand and began coaching the practices and games in the U12 Division and they even made it to the finals. Unfortunately his team lost the title game but for Soares his favourite part of the season was getting to know the kids and trying to find what coaching style best suited each of them.
Coaching minor football wasn’t the only volunteering Soares did this past year; he again helped in soup kitchens in London as well. He wanted to do even more however it became extremely difficult to do because of the pandemic and other extraneous circumstances in his personal life. He is a full time student, he was practicing with the Beefs and learning the intricacies of the game and working part time.
He speaks with Ryan Watters about why he thinks it’s important to give back.