Living the 'Dream'

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Kick Lead and Dream campers take a break from soccer to cool off with a water-balloon fight on a recent hot day.

The Kick, Lead and Dream soccer camp has been an important part of Brando “Chuey” Yanez’s summers since age 10. He’s been a KLD camper, coach and now a scholarship winner.

The spring graduate of Homestead High recently received a $500 college scholarship from KLD for his devotion to the camp, aimed at public school students in grades 3-8 who come from low-income families in Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Last month’s two-week camp at Mountain View’s Cooper Park marked the third year in a row Yanez has volunteered as a coach.

Yanez said he was “really surprised” to receive the scholarship. He was the sole recipient this year; two scholarships were awarded last year.

KLD’s scholarship program began in 2016 “to recognize a coach or coaches who were previously a camper and progressed to a coach/leader and have embodied the values of KLD,” said parent volunteer Nandita Weigel. “The scholarship recipients have been hardworking, dedicated role models both as campers and coaches and could benefit from a small financial reward.”

The small fee required to participate in the camp is what allows so many at-risk youngsters the opportunity to sign up. It cost only $10 to attend this year’s camp, which ran 1-4 p.m. weekdays June 12-23.

“It helps the community a lot,” Yanez said of KLD. “It gives kids something to do other than sit at home. It helps them learn the sport of soccer and make new friends.”

His experience as a camper motivated Yanez to become a coach.

“The coaches made an impact on my life,” the Sunnyvale resident said. “I had one coach, Cameron, who really impacted my life and told me how to become a leader. I took that into account when I played competitive soccer.”

Yanez played four years of soccer and football at Homestead and ran track for one season. He plans to play soccer at De Anza College in the fall and in two years hopes to transfer to Duke or Stanford to complete his studies.

KLD has encouraged him to dream big – and the transition from camper to coach only seemed to bolster his chances of realizing those dreams.

“It taught me a lot about patience – something I didn’t see as a camper,” Yanez said. “That’s helped me a lot, and I think that it will help me in the future as well.”

Yanez was among the 90 volunteer coaches at this year’s camp, which served approximately 300 youth.

Nikhil Weigel, Nandita’s son, started out as a coach a few years ago and is now a camp leader.

“Although it involves many hours of commitment before the camp even starts – working on fundraising and planning the day-to-day activities – it’s also been a lot of fun working with the other leaders,” said the rising junior at Mountain View High. “I love soccer, and to be able to positively impact at-risk kids through this sport is extremely rewarding and satisfying to me.”

Founded by Mountain View High students in 2007, KLD began with a modest 25 campers and five coaches at Bubb Elementary School in Mountain View. It moved to Cherry Chase Elementary in Sunnyvale in 2009, then back to Mountain View at its current site, Cooper Park.

Yanez hopes to return to the camp next summer as a college intern.

“I’ll still be around, so I’d like to come back and help,” he said. “It’s really fun to be around the kids and see them work together and enjoy themselves.”


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