COSTA MESA — A Mater Dei school bus filled with children rolled through Santa Ana and into Costa Mesa on a beautiful Saturday morning. Surely it was a gorgeous day for the kids. It was a day of soccer.
As the bus approached Mariners Christian School, the children chanted, "Soccer! Soccer! Soccer!"
The youngsters – about 65 of them – from KidWorks came to Mariners Christian School for a soccer clinic, conducted by experienced players and featuring a special alumnus, Jack McBean.
The children are from at-risk neighborhoods, said Ava Steaffens, president/CEO of KidWorks. There was little reason to think about those problems at Mariners Christian School.
The kids were all smiles as they ran around on the field, kicking the balls and receiving treats throughout the day. They were fed lunch and ice cream and they received a goodie bag. Each went home with a soccer ball, t-shirt, group photo and other treats, some from the Los Angeles Galaxy.
That's where McBean steps in. The 16-year-old who lives in Newport Beach signed with the L.A. Galaxy in January. He's been eager to give back, especially to the school where he attended.
McBean's life has changed, but he's still a normal kid, his mother Lisa McBean said. She was there along with her daughter, Abi.
It was a family affair at Mariners Christian School, and it went beyond the McBeans.
Through the support of volunteers the day went smoothly, said Tayt Ianni, a former professional soccer player who was instrumental in coordinating the event. Ianni's children attend Mariners Christian School.
He and his wife, Nicole, have been involved with KidWorks and had wanted to bring the children to Costa Mesa for a day of fun.
Ianni lives near the McBeans and told them about the upcoming event. Jack McBean wanted to help.
"It was fun," said McBean, who leaves for Florida Sunday to train with the U.S. men's national under-17 team. "It was a good time for the kids. They all had fun it seemed. It was a lot of fun, just kicking the ball around and just messing around with them."
Many of the children knew about soccer, so there wasn't as much training, mostly playing.
Tony Everett, founder of Pure Game, a unique soccer program for kids, helped with his brand of fun. Everett takes Pure Game to the children at KidWorks each Friday, having the little players compete in four-on-four or five-on-five games.
Everett enjoys working with the kids. He was also fascinated when he heard the children chanting, "Soccer," before playing on Saturday.
"Fantastic," Everett said. "It doesn't get any better than that."
It also proved to be a special day for Steaffens. She was not on the bus with the children.
She was honored as CEO of the Year for the City of Santa Ana at a special ceremony at Centennial Park.
Afterward she came to Mariners Christian School to get back to the work she has been doing for the past 12 years.
She said when she posted sign-ups for Saturday's event, the spots were quickly filled.
"I was excited but the kids were even more excited," she said.
Jack McBean was also thrilled to be a part of the event.
"It's important to give back for sure," said McBean, who excelled at Corona del Mar High for two seasons before transitioning to independent studies. "Everything that people have given me, I have been so fortunate with training; to give back three hours, it's nothing. It's definitely something that I'll keep doing in my career."