Asbury Park, NJ – Soccer Star Christie Pearce Rampone today visited Mercy Center’s Sisters Academy of New Jersey on Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park. The two-time World Champion and three-time Gold Olympic Medalist from Point Pleasant led soccer drills with all the students, who are girls in grades five through eight. The middle school focuses on girls from the greater Asbury Park area from economically challenged families. Most of the girls had never touched a soccer ball before.

“I don’t always succeed when I try to make a goal, but it’s important I always take the shot. Think about that in all things in your life, you might not win each time, but you must try. It helps you grow and improve, and you’ve got to think big,” said Rampone. During a brief ceremony in the auditorium before the drills, the mother of two girls from Point Pleasant also told the students, “I hope you enjoy this experience today. Nothing would make me happier than if this introduction to soccer ignites a spark for you.”

“Mercy Center’s Sister Academy lost all its volunteer sports coaches during the pandemic. For most of these girls, expensive soccer classes are out of reach for their families. Today’s experience for the girls was a real treat, and we hope to bring sports back to the school,” said Academy Principal, Elena Malinconico.

“Soccer is a big deal in Haiti where my family is from, and it is awesome to try it for the first time. Learning from a professional is cool,” said 14-year-old Majesty Turene, an 8th grader at the Academy, after scrimmaging with her classmates.

“I think it’s a really nice sport, and I’d be interested in playing again. If the school had a team, I’d go out for it,” said 11-year-old Shaniya Yanowitz, a 6th grader at the Academy.


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Soccer Team at Mercy Center Sisters Academy of New Jersey
Soccer Team at Mercy Centers Sisters Academy of New Jersey

A generous anonymous donor provided more than 500 soccer uniforms to Mercy Center. Every girl in the school received a free uniform, and the girls wore the green jerseys during Rampone’s visit where they learned to dribble, pass, and the basic formations on the field. The additional uniforms are being distributed to local schools that are in need.

About Mercy Center

Mercy Center, based in Asbury Park, provides programs and services that empower, enrich, and educate. The nonprofit, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1986, helps people facing socio-economic challenges realize their full potential, with a special emphasis on women and children. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty with kindness, compassion, and understanding.Mercy Center offers Emergency Services, including food at our pantry which is open all day, every weekday. We provide clothing and utilities assistance to help sustain families facing financial difficulties. Our Family Resource Center is a “one-stop-shop” for resources, referrals, advocacy, counseling, and behavior modification services. The Family Resource Center offers group, virtual, and individual counseling to help families maintain healthier lives and relationships.

Mercy Center’s Sisters Academy of New Jersey is a middle school for girls grades five through eight. The Academy focuses on girls from surrounding communities from economically challenged families. It provides an education of excellence, life skills, and the necessary tools to become confident, self-sufficient, and successful in competitive high schools. In fact, 100% of our students graduate from high school.

To learn more about Mercy Center or to donate, visit www.mercycenternj.org. Follow Mercy Center on Facebook @MercyCenterAP and Instagram @MercyCenterNJ.


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