Soccer has given Jason Cherin a lot.
Friendships. Memories that’ll last a lifetime, including last fall’s snapshots when his World of Inquiry team became the first Rochester City School District soccer squad to reach the state championships.
Most important: Soccer has given him passion and direction, so he gives back.
“I love teaching kids and watching them have fun with it, watching them grow as players,” the 18-year-old senior said.
For his Capstone Project, Cherin organized, designed, recruited help and players and was the lead instructor in a once-a-week soccer clinic the first three Saturdays in May.
“The game is very important to me. It’s a huge part of my life,” he said during a break at Rochester’s Dr. Freddie Thomas School, where he taught 50-plus children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. “I don’t know what I’d do without soccer.”
World of Inquiry teacher Bridget Maio, who has known Cherin for about six years, wasn’t surprised he chose soccer for his project. A Capstone Project is a two-semester process. The first is about college preparation, sharpening SAT skills and exploring different career interests. Then it’s about picking and executing a project.
Some classmates of Cherin (pronounced sharon) designed a fashion show at Strong Museum. Others built tables for the school’s new greenhouse and several recorded their own music albums.
Cherin, by the way, plays xylophone and marimba, but soccer rings true in his heart. He’s planning to walk on and try to play at the University of Rochester while studying exercise science. His grade-point average is actually higher than 4.0.
“Jason’s the best kind of role model these kids can have,” Maio said, talking just a few yards away from where Cherin and his friend and W.O.I classmate, Quinterra Robinson, were leading a drill for about 15 youngsters.
“He’s just an upstanding student and person and he’s always polite and caring,” Maio continued about Cherin, who’ll graduate first or second in his class next month. “He’s responsible and dedicated.”
He connects well with his peers and younger children. Cherin also works with a local youth soccer academy as a part-time instructor.
“He’s a great teacher who knows how to start off with the children and help them progress,” said Robinson, a senior headed to the University at Buffalo. “When he’s showing them moves, he’ll show them fast, then show them slow and let them work with it.”
Nasir Nour, 10, was one of the young players learning what he called “tricks” from Cherin. They were just dribbling moves, but Nour looked like he was having fun.
“Since he’s younger and he’s been a kid recently,” 9-year-old Ada Reddington said of Cherin, “he knows how you’d understand something, so it’s nice.”
The son of Jane and Brad Cherin was a four-year varsity player in high school. A defender, Jason was named the Rochester City Athletic Conference Player of the Year. W.O.I. went 18-3-2, became the RCSD’s first Section V boys soccer champion since 1980 and marched all the way to the Class C state title game despite being a young squad.
“(Cherin) was our leader, just like another coach on the field” said W.O.I. coach Deon Rodgers, who was named the All-Greater Rochester Co-Coach of the Year.
But Cherin also counseled his younger teammates on making the right decisions off the field.
“He really encouraged the players academically also to go to class, do your homework,” Rodgers, 40, said.
Unfortunately, the Griffins lost, 1-0, to Section IX’s Rhinebeck in the championship.
“I probably still don’t know how big of a deal it was,” Cherin said of the team’s historic run. “From what our coach and other people have said it’s a pretty big deal. It was a very special year. I’m not going to forget it.”
The team’s success created a bit of a soccer frenzy in school, said Maio and teaching colleague Davin Reddington, Ada’s father.
“There are soccer balls everywhere,” said Davin Reddington, a social studies teacher. “(Fellow students) were on the bandwagon the whole way, so now they have a sense of what they’re capable of as players.”
Watching what the Griffins did inspired Silas Ruth, 12. He’ll only be in seventh grade next fall, but he hopes to try out for the W.O.I. varsity.
“Definitely, I want to be like him,” Ruth said of Cherin. “I want to go very far and play on the (varsity) team.”
Jason Cherin file
School: World of Inquiry.
Academics: 4.21 GPA.
Last season: Captain and defender for the Griffins, who won were first Section V boys soccer champion from the city since 1980. They went 18-3-2 and were Class C state runners-up.
Project: For his school Capstone Project, Cherin ran a soccer clinic at Dr. Freddie Thomas School the first three Saturdays in May for kindergarten through sixth-graders.
Favorite player: Lionel Messi.
Next: Plans to attend University of Rochester and study exercise science.