Best Volunteer

Tim Tettambel

Along with his partners Tom Michler and John Cochran, Tim Tettambel is the founder of New Dimensions Soccer. Every Saturday for the past six years, the trio has run loosely organized soccer practices and games for underprivileged kids at a field near the intersection of Russell Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue in south St. Louis. "There's no coaching the kids when they're playing on the field," Tettambel explains. "We don't keep score. There's no league standings. What we try to create is a structured unstructured environment. We're providing the field and a structure to play within and, in that context, how the kids play is up to them." Several of the kids (mostly first-, second- and third-graders) who participate in the program are immigrants who came from the Center for the Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. Some have gone on to win scholarships at private schools in the area, including at De Smet and at CBC High School, where Michler's brother Terry is head coach. Tettambel, who works a day job as a telecommunications consultant, says the hands-off atmosphere is actually modeled after European soccer academies. "It reduces adult intervention," he says, "and it encourages decision-making, teamwork and character — all the things required to succeed down the road." The program has formed a partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and is working to improve the area around their field with neighborhood cleanup initiatives and the creation of a community garden.

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