GOAL is to graduate 10,000 kids by World Cup 2026

Pleasanton Preps: Youth soccer partnership helping game become more accessible

When Valley View Elementary School in Pleasanton partnered with the Ballistic United Soccer Club and the Get on the Bus program that helps bring the game of soccer to underprivileged kids, there were simple things they had hoped to accomplish.

It wasn’t just the experience of playing the wonderful game of soccer, but it also encompassed academic aid, nutritional help and learning life lessons.

It was a success right off the bat. But along the way something else happened – the team got good.

Following a great performance in the regular season, as well as strong effort at the Davis tournament last fall, the team was selected to participate in the Cal North winter league to represent Ballistic in the Under-12 Division.

The players practiced up to three times a week and played on Saturdays, which meant the players had to endure the elements – including the heavy rain and winds.

The season consisted of a total of 10 games that were all played at neighboring communities, such as Walnut Creek, San Ramon, West Contra Costa, Mount Diablo and Danville, with no home games in Pleasanton.

Valley View won eight of the games, scoring 37 goals, with the defense recording three shutouts. The results are not final, but it appears the group will finish atop the standings.

GET ON THE BUS: New afterschool program launched in Hartford

The Get on the Bus program was launched at Moylan School in Hartford, Conn. (Photo courtesy of the CJSA)

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Connecticut Junior Soccer Association has announced that it is assisting with the launch of a Get on the Bus Afterschool Program at the Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School in Hartford, Conn.

The CJSA received a grant as part of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Innovate to Grow Initiative, and the state association is now directing funds from the grant to help launch this free program for the Hartford community.

“We are extremely excited to be able to launch the Get on the Bus Program at the Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School, and we look forward to making it a great success,” CJSA executive director Josh Krusewski said in a statement. “We have great partners in the Get on the Bus Program as well as those at the Moylan School, and we are positive that this program will be impactful for all involved.”

Get On the Bus breaks down financial and transportation barriers so kids can play recreational soccer on a team in their community while also learning valuable life skills and good study habits. Headquartered in Maryland, Get on the Bus operates various chapters throughout the country and is also undergoing international expansion into Mexico as well.

“We are thrilled to bring the Get on the Bus Program to Connecticut this spring,” Tim Ryerson, Director of Chapter Management for Get on the Bus, said in a statement. “We have been working since before COVID to offer this opportunity afforded by the Innovate to Grow Fund Grant from the United States Soccer Federation. We are looking forward to working with Josh and CJSA to roll this out in Hartford.”

Through the Get on the Bus Program, young athletes are selected based on need and merit to receive a variety of items completely free of charge. Among the free activities that are provided include homework assistance and a study hall with certified teachers and para-educators, a healthy snack, and transportation by bus to and from the soccer field to participate in a recreational soccer program. On the soccer field, players will be guided by licensed youth coaches following U.S. Soccer age-appropriate guidelines. Additionally, soccer gear and apparel such as jerseys, shorts, socks, shin guards, cleats and soccer balls will be provided.

To learn more about the Get on the Bus Afterschool Program at Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School, or to find out how you can get involved, please reach out to the CJSA State Office by calling (860) 676-1161 or via email at office@cjsa.org.

Tim Ryerson, Staci Wilson, Maj Erin Issler, Lt Col Marci Wilson, Tyler smaha, Pres. by LeagueApps-3-14-24

Tim Ryerson, Staci Wilson, Maj. Erin Issler, Lt Col. Marci Wilson, Tyler smaha, Pres. by LeagueApps – 3-14-24 by United Soccer Coaches Podcast

🎙️ Tune in to the latest episode of the United Soccer Coaches Podcast with our host Dean Linke! We’re thrilled to feature guests like Tim Ryerson discussing the impactful ‘Get on the Bus’ program at Mclean Youth Soccer ⚽, Staci Wilson sharing insights as the new head coach of a women’s team in Florida 🌴, and insightful conversations with Key VAMA…

‘Get on the bus’ – Empowering Communities through Sport

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.

Driving equality in youth soccer: ‘Get on the Bus’ clears transportation and financial hurdles

Driving equality in youth soccer: ‘Get on the Bus’ clears transportation and financial hurdlesGet On The Bus: Creating a Better Future in Your Community

A Get On The Bus team supported by Pleasanton, California, club Ballistic United. The program operates in Title I schools in California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state. Credit: Cal North Youth Soccer

Generations of officials have appointed armies of study groups to explore an important question: how to introduce more youngsters from underserved areas to soccer.

They’ve looked at barriers like pay-to-play, the cost of equipment and lack of playing fields. But they often ignore a more fundamental obstacle: how to get players to those teams and fields in the first place.

“If a kid doesn’t have transportation to a program, it doesn’t matter if they can afford it or not,” says Tim Ryerson.

Wearing one hat, he serves as associate executive director of McLean (Virginia) Youth Soccer. Wearing another, he is the creator of Get on the Bus. Since 2017, has broken down transportation and financial barriers, so boys and girls in suburban Washington can play recreational soccer. The free after-school program also teaches valuable life skills, and good study habits.

It’s been hugely successful. Now, thanks to a U.S. Soccer “Innovate to Grow” grant, even more youngsters will “get on the bus,” and enjoy the ride.

The grant is one of 27 awarded by the national governing body, out of $3 million earmarked for programs that will increase education resources for youth coaches and referees, remove financial barriers of entry for participants in marginalized communities, increase participation for girls and women, and/or provide resources for an array of disabled service organizations.

The program begins when the school day ends. Children head to their gym, cafeteria or multipurpose room. They enjoy a healthy snack. Then, working with teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches and volunteers, they spend an hour and a quarter getting help with homework, school projects or learning English. They also learn about the importance of hydration, stretching and sunscreen.

Then they head to their school field. Or they get on a bus, to a nearby training facility donated by a nearby club.

They change into soccer gear. Every youngster receives a jersey, shorts, socks, soccer shoes, shinguards, ball and duffel bag — just like players at elite clubs.

At the field, club coaches, teachers or paras teach soccer skills. (Educators have already received training in recreational or club soccer curricula.) At the end, parents or caregivers pick them up at the facility, not far from their homes.

Of course, every kid loves to play. On Saturdays they participate in local recreational leagues. “They can all get to their school. They can’t always get to league fields,” Ryerson says. So a bus takes them to and from games.

Tim Ryerson

Tim Ryerson

The Innovate to Grow funds will pay for an expansion of the program. It covers costs transportation, facilities, equipment, league feeds, food, and coaches and teachers.

(Supplemental funding, from other grants, corporate sponsors and donations, may be needed as well, Ryerson says.)

The goal is to reach 10,000 boys and girls by 2026, the year the World Cup comes to North America. The program has already served 2,500 youths who have never played organized soccer — or been registered with U.S. Soccer — before. There will be 1,000 this spring, and another 1,000 next fall.

Get on the Bus currently operates in Title I (economically disadvantaged) schools in California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state. A Mexico City affiliate begins this year.

Ryerson has seen success firsthand. Twin boys in the first pilot program, in Ellicott City, Maryland, were selected to play club soccer (with financial assistance from the team). They also now play for their high school — and return each season as volunteer coaches with Get on the Bus.

Every school that launched the initiative has invited it back, Ryerson says proudly.

That’s a lot of boys and girls. And buses.

Creating a Better Future in Your Community

Get On The Bus: Creating a Better Future in Your Community

December 2, 2022 | By Cal North Soccer | IDA

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Nov. 30, 2022) – Meet Get On The Bus, Cal North’s Partner organization bringing the wonderful game of soccer to students at title one schools in hopes of creating a more equitable community here in Northern California and across the country. This giving season coincides with soccer’s biggest event, the World Cup. What better way to celebrate than by creating access to the future leaders of the game and our communities? We ponder how many players representing their respective countries this year started kicking the ball around with neighborhood friends and had the same drive as the children we aim to provide opportunities.

As we celebrate the successes of global unity and good sportsmanship this season, we are reminded why we partnered with the Get on the Bus program. Every child deserves their own world cup moment and to reap the benefits of this great game beyond the pitch. You may have heard that the World Cup is coming to the United States in 2026, and GOTB has a goal to reach 10,000 new participants by World Cup 2026! We hope Cal North can continue to expand the program for years to come.
Just this year, GOTB has been able to serve 168 children across the nation.

GOTB Soccer Graphic

Get On the Bus makes a difference and can change the course of a child’s life because of the commitment from schools, coaches, clubs, teammates, and donors like you. Consider a gift now so that it can be used to fund this opportunity for more children in 2023.

A key element of the GOTB program is the creation of equity. The high costs of soccer in the US created great inequities while upon further examination, it became apparent many families would require help to bring their child to an extracurricular, even if free. As such, the program seeks to address two layers of community inequities.

The first layer of challenges the program addresses involves:

  • access to mentorship
  • healthy food
  • after-school care
  • support and academic accountability

The second layer of challenges the program addresses:

  • access to consistent familial structures
  • health opportunity inequities
  • equitable community support for dual or single-working parents
  • long-term health habit development and positive health outcomes.

A day at GOTB

Get on the Bus is a stand-alone 501c3 headquartered in the state of Maryland and operating in chapters across the country. We are changing lives one participant at a time. With such a lofty goal of 10,000 participants by World Cup 2026 we are aggressively seeking funding opportunities. With your help we can reach our goal!

Please donate today.

$500 covers all costs for a player for a full season
$750 supports all snack costs for a GOTB team for a full season
$2500 supports all busing costs for a GOTB team for a full season
$5000 covers all costs for a GOTB team for a full season
$10,000 supports an entire school!

Partners & Sponsors

Supporters of the GOTB Program

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