Stephanie McArdle has grown Beyond Soccer from its grass roots (12 girls on the first travel soccer team) to a year-round, sports-based youth development organization, now serving thousands of youth in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a low-income, majority Hispanic city north of Boston.
Stephanie, who captained the University of Michigan Women’s Soccer Team for two years, recognizes the power of sport to lift kids out of difficult situations. She started her Beyond Soccer journey in 2006 after discovering Lawrence had no youth soccer program, and its high school, of 3,000 students, did not field a girl’s team. It was a stark contrast to her childhood, just 2 towns over in Boxford, MA, which supported hundreds of youth teams, plus overflowing rosters at Masconomet Regional High School. That void served as Stephanie’s early motivation to recruit that first group of middle school females and prepare them for competition in the Essex County travel league. Buoyed by their success, which took many years of hard work, along with the help of her family, especially her mother Ellen, who currently serves as town registrar, and sister Lindsey, as Beyond Soccer’s Health & Wellness Director, she added boy’s teams, engaged volunteer coaches, sponsored kids to attend numerous soccer camps and indoor leagues, and began cementing community partnerships.