Jesse DiLuzio ’18 was accepted for a five-month stint as a volunteer with the non-profit Coaches Across Continents. The two-year captain of Centre’s men’s soccer team will be traveling across the world promoting positive social change through the game of soccer.
DiLuzio, who graduated in May with a degree in international studies, explains the importance of this work.
“Coaches Across Continents (CAC) uses a self-directed curriculum model dubbed ‘From Chance to Choice’ that focuses on moving from the unpredictability and ‘chance’ of an unquestioned lifestyle towards the deeper recognition of potential choices. CAC wants youth to develop the personal skills and insight to recognize these choices and act upon them.”
During his time with CAC, DiLuzio will most likely spend time in Cambodia, Palestine, Jordan, Georgia, Timor, Indonesia and India.
Volunteer positions for CAC are very competitive, and its global citizens are selected after a lengthy application process. The social change areas on which it focuses include female empowerment, gender equity, conflict prevention, social inclusion, health and wellness, HIV/AIDS behavior change, child rights, and other vital life skills. Currently, community-based organizations from 95 countries have requested partnerships with CAC.
“CAC volunteers travel often and do not stay in communities for longer than a month in order to avoid the ‘West knows best’ attitude that is frequently seen with Western non-governmental organizations,” he explains. “It focuses on the development of local leaders, youth and particularly coaches to develop meaningful long-term change.
“Soccer, being the most accessible and popular game on the planet, is used to develop positive leadership skills in the local population so they can make change in their own individual communities,” DiLuzio continues. “CAC is not there to teach coaches and youth how to develop a better touch, shot, etc., but to create sustainable sport for development programs as an education tool for positive social change.”
DiLuzio credits his time at Centre as his inspiration to serve and fundraise for this international non-profit.
“Centre has had an immense impact on my decision to travel and raise money with this particular organization,” DiLuzio says. “The mission of ‘preparing students for lives of learning, leadership, and service’ is directly connected to the work that I hope to accomplish with CAC.”
Jeb Burch, Centre’s head men’s soccer coach, believes DiLuzio, who received the Flame Award for the student-athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of both the program and Centre College in general, is uniquely qualified to take on this mission.
“Jesse embodies the spirit of Centre soccer and is one of the best leaders our program has seen. He led our team out of a pretty bleak period, having experienced our first losing season in 29 years to winning the conference championship the next season.
“That required him to be heavy-handed with a few close friends on the team and getting everyone on the team to make sacrifices that they may not have wanted to make,” Burch continues. “That speaks to his character, and he graduated as one of the most beloved players in our program. Jesse is an everyman who is friends with every player on our team.”
While at Centre, DiLuzio spent studied abroad in Merida, Mexico, for a semester, during which he also spent time in Cuba and Belize. Prior to Centre, he spent time living with host families in Israel, Palestine and Martinique, and he also visited England and Italy with other soccer teams.
“This work will broaden my international scope, which is an important priority for Centre,” DiLuzio continues. “It is an opportunity to learn about different local communities across the world as well as learn from the local leaders in those communities who are motivated to employ positive social change.
“It is also an opportunity to develop my own leadership skills by identifying and solving problems specific to community needs, and it is an incredible way to serve communities which have largely been underserved in a way that preserves local autonomy.”
Learn more about Coaches Across Continents here.
by Cindy Long
July 10, 2018