Kickin’ It For Kenya

SNOHOMISH — Students weren’t quietly studying Tuesday in marketing teacher Alicia Sents’ room at Glacier Peak High School.

Instead they were deflating soccer balls and sorting pairs of soccer cleats.

The used soccer equipment was donated to the Kickin’ It For Kenya soccer ball and equipment drive. Sents’ students organized the drive after a Glacier Park foreign exchange student talked to their class in April about his home country.

Solomon Nkinai, 18, told his schoolmates about his life in Kajiado in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. He described his village, his school and spoke about hunting lion. He talked about his love for soccer and how kids in Kenya play with homemade soccer balls of garbage bags, tarps, rope or string.

“I remember one time we decided to collect money to buy some soccer balls and we couldn’t even afford to buy one,” he said.

The students in the sports and entertainment marketing class decided they would help children in Kenya get traditional soccer balls and equipment. They introduced the Kickin’ It For Kenya drive during an assembly three days later. A friendly class competition was held May 3-14 to see what class could collect the most donations.

Soccer equipment continued to be dropped off, even after Beth Flansburg’s fifth period class won the prize — a pizza party.

Additional donations were given by the Seattle Sounders FC, the University of Washington Alumni soccer players and the Northwest Nationals Soccer Club. So far, they’ve collected more than 100 soccer balls and lots of other equipment.

Sents expects donations of balls, shoes, and jerseys to continue to be dropped off at the school until the end of the drive on June 4.

“When Solomon came to me I told him if we do this it’s going to be probably bigger than what you can imagine and it’s actually bigger than I thought, too,” Sents said. ”I knew there was a possibility of this kind of generosity from the community but I definitely was overwhelmed by the donations and help that has come out of this. It’s good for the students to see this and experience this.”

Nkinai started living with his Everett host family in August and began attending Glacier Peak at the beginning of the school year. He’s played soccer for five years. At Glacier Peak, he was part of the varsity cross country team and was a midfielder on the Glacier Peak junior varsity soccer team.

“I like playing soccer a lot,” he said. “I don’t really play for my school team because in Kenya it’s mostly strictly studies so if I spend my time playing sports it will affect my grades and that’s not an excuse in Kenya.”

Nkinai attends Olkejuado High School in Kenya. He studies to get good grades, he said, so he can become a dentist one day.

Nkinai will leave Washington and fly to Washington, D.C., on June 28. On July 3, he’ll return home to Kenya.

Sents and her class hope the soccer equipment won’t be far behind him.

“(Soccer equipment) will take about a month to get to Kenya,” Sents said. “Our goal is to have it there for him so he can help distribute them to the children and students.”

Organizing the soccer drive taught students how to contact different organizations like Seattle Sounders FC and how to get people involved in a cause, senior Cody Wollman, 18, said.

“This has been pretty fun,” he said. “It feels good to help out Solomon. We feel good he’s going back with something.”

The class is selling red, black, and green bracelets with the slogan “Kickin’ It For Kenya” for $1 during lunchtime to raise money to ship the donations to Kenya.

“We’re trying to raise money but we’ve been quoted $2,500 to ship 20 boxes of a certain size,” Sents said.

Junior Katie Brown, 17, said the soccer drive appears to be more popular than past fundraisers at the school.

“It’s just surprising that we would fill up the conference room,” Brown said. “I really don’t think (Solomon) was expecting that either.”

Brown didn’t know Nkinai before she helped to organize the Kickin’ It For Kenya drive but said they’ve talked a few times since.

“Every time I see him in the hallway I say, ‘Hey’” she said.

Nkinai said he would like to return to Washington some day and when he does, Glacier Peak will be one place he visits.

“When I come back I will not forget to come back here and say hi,” he said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

Kickin’ It For Kenya

New or gently used soccer equipment and monetary donations to help send the equipment to Kenya can be dropped off at Glacier Peak High School, 7401 144th Place SE, in Snohomish. Call the school at 360-563-7500 for more information about the Kickin’ It For Kenya soccer drive.

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