WASHINGTON - DC Stoddert Soccer is pleased to announce The Marc Cohen Award. This award honors local coach, father, and soccer fanatic Marc Cohen, who fostered his children's lifelong obsession with soccer through their participation in DC Stoddert programs. The Marc Cohen Award seeks to recognize DC Stoddert players who demonstrate passion for learning the nuances of the game, on field leadership, and a superb sense of humor.
The idea for the award started when couple Jacob Cohen and Leah Wald decided during the COVID-19 pandemic that they wanted to give back to the community in a meaningful way. When reflecting on community activities that were important to them in their youth, they turned to soccer and their early experiences with DC Stoddert. They recognized the challenge to kids during this time and, looking ahead, they hope that soccer is a way to take their minds off the serious things in the world and do what they love.
Jacob and Leah grew up in the DC area and developed a passion for soccer early on. They share great memories playing for DC Stoddert, which they started at a young age. Years after college and both back in DC, the couple reconnected and played together on an adult soccer team. They were married in 2019!
“We both have a love of soccer and have origins in soccer. We are appreciative of my father for starting us off on this path and for being so involved in those formative years. We wanted to do something that merged with something that means a lot to us,” said Jacob.
The award is dedicated to Jacob’s father Marc Cohen, who was actively involved in coaching and supporting Jacob as a youth soccer player and continues to share his passion for the game. Some of Jacob’s fondest memories include playing soccer with his dad and watching games together. Growing up, his father coached Jacob and his siblings and took them to the park everyday after work to play soccer. Jacob described his father as someone who loves to laugh, tell jokes, and have fun. He said that his dad was the kind of coach who was serious and focused on learning, but did it all by being goofy and fun.
“My dad was very involved and took so much time out of his personal life to make sure I enjoyed it,” said Jacob. “We hope this award can provide soccer opportunities for other DC-area youth who really love the game, want to learn and improve, and at the heart of it, really want to have a good time, laugh, be leaders, and help others have a good time.”
In the future, Jacob and Leah would like to see this award and others like it grow. They encourage others to get involved and follow suit. “We hope others who care about soccer and kids and DC Stoddert will copy this idea as it’s a great way to give back, help others, and make a difference on the smallest level with the things that are most important to us. We hope it stays around and that we’re able to nurture, increase it, and provide support for more players every year.”
“Soccer and DC Stoddert Soccer in particular was a center point in my house growing up and in my dad’s life as a coach and a parent. For those who love soccer, please remember where you started and try and do what you can to help others have the same opportunity. I’d love for everyone to share my experience of having good coaches and a rich experience on and off the field,” said Jacob.
The award winners for 2020 were Zahara Ince-Webley (2009 Girls Blue) and Aryan Amin (2005 Boys Blue). “It feels really nice to know that my coaches consider me to fit the characteristics of this award,” said Ince-Webley. “I’m glad to know people think I’m actually funny.”
Amin classified the award as a real honor, saying, “not only is winning this award exciting in the moment, but I can also use it as motivation in my training sessions and as something to look back on which will push me forward through my soccer career.”
Jacob and Leah hope that setting up this award in Marc’s honor will get him involved again by coaching or refereeing. When Jacob and Leah have kids, they want them to have the same opportunity to play with DC Stoddert and hope Marc will be their coach!
The Marc Cohen Award will be given annually to one or more players on a DC Stoddert Soccer Travel team to support the player’s registration fees, uniform, and other needed equipment. Player selection for the grant will be based on a commitment to DC Stoddert’s values of sportsmanship, respect, hard work, and service to the community.
Jacob said, “Thank you to DC Stoddert for working with us to develop this award. We hope that as many people as possible can do this. A little bit can go a long way and if you have the means during this time, supporting youth sports and DC Stoddert is a great community investment.”
“The donation from Jacob and Leah is a great contribution to DC Stoddert,” said Executive Director Jennifer Gootman. “We are so glad that DC Stoddert had such a lasting impact on Leah and Jacob, appreciate Marc’s devotion to soccer as a parent and a volunteer coach, deeply appreciate their generosity, and hope that this award can serve as a model for others who are similarly motivated to help us make soccer accessible to all players in DC.”