BEST PRACTICE: ‘Get on the bus’ – Empowering Communities through Sport

Institute for Youth Sports Leaders (IYSL)

February 28, 2024

Featured Youth Sports Clubs

Ellicott City Soccer Club (MD), Ballistic United Soccer Club (CA), Sky Soccer Club (KY), United PDX Soccer Club (OR), Hillsborough Rush (OR).

Featured Leader

Tim Ryerson , Creator of GET ON THE BUS(GOTB) & Associate Executive Director, Mclean Youth Soccer (VA).


In 2018, Tim Ryerson launched the ‘Get On the Bus’, (GOTB), aimed at supporting 4th and 5th grade students in underserved communities. This innovative program offers a comprehensive package including soccer coaching, life skills sessions, homework help, healthy snacks, and transportation to and from the soccer field. With a vision to reach 10,000 youth participants by the FIFA World Cup in 2026, GOTB has garnered participation from prominent clubs across the USA.

Why ‘Get on the Bus’ is a Best Practice Example

Institute for Youth Sports Leaders (IYSL) recognizes Ellicott City, Ballistic United, Sky Soccer Club, United PDX, and Hillsborough Rush for best practice. GOTB supports the desire of club executives to give back to society while benefiting their organizations. By aligning with the philanthropic goals outlined in club missions, GOTB attracts goodwill, sponsorship interest, and revenue from player registrations. Moreover, it provides access to a diverse player pool, fosters community engagement, and offers valuable life lessons in volunteering.

Ensuring Accessibility and Inclusivity

GOTB prioritizes accessibility and inclusivity by targeting participants from Title I schools and allocating $500 per participant for uniforms and equipment. Recognizing transportation as a significant barrier for underserved communities, the program collaborates with schools to arrange bus transportation for students to training and game locations. Additionally, employing teachers and coaches to supervise the program further enhances inclusivity.

Program Funding

Initially self-funded by Ellicott City Soccer Club members, GOTB has received substantial support from local businesses, sponsors, and grants such as the United States Soccer Federation’s ‘Innovate to Grow’ grant. Tim Ryerson’s proactive approach has help to secure grant funding from USSF for eight state associations (Nevada, Nevada, California North, California South, Connecticut, Oregon, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Washington) while ongoing efforts aim to tap into school funding opportunities available to Title 1 institutions. Additional funding sources include individual donations, club fundraising, program sponsors and local, regional and national corporate giving.

Measuring Impact

While the positive impact of GOTB on participants is evident, the program is actively developing comprehensive metrics to measure its influence on academic performance, physical health, and socio-emotional development. Collaborating with schools, GOTB aims to track indicators such as attendance, grades, and behavior, providing valuable insights into the program’s effectiveness. Early success stories of high school graduates volunteering as coaches highlight the lasting impact of the initiative.

Program Summary

Despite initial challenges in gaining recognition and support, Tim Ryerson’s perseverance has propelled GOTB into a national initiative with widespread interest and participation. With a vision to expand across all states in the USA and beyond, GOTB welcomes collaboration from individuals and organizations committed to making a difference in the lives of young athletes from underserved communities. Through soccer, GOTB not only nurtures athletic talent but also empowers communities, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and social responsibility in youth sports.

Best Practice Alignment

The adoption of GOTB by the previously mentioned clubs aligns with success factor #18 (out of 60) – The organization operates in partnership with local communities and schools.