Thursday, October 10, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight: Sterling Hancock

Meet Sterling, a South Franklin Soccer League volunteer referee who moonlights as a BYU men’s soccer player.

Photo Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News. From

BYU soccer’s strong tradition of service is what introduced Sterling to the community center. Last year the team held a free clinic at the Boulder’s Field where, Sterling explained, they teach kids soccer but also emphasize that school comes first. He says, “I like to share a story about some of my high school teammates who were super talented players, but who jeopardized their futures (in soccer) because of grades. Grades are becoming increasingly important in college sports. If you have two equally talented players up for a scholarship, the school is going to take the one with better grades.”

Another priority for Sterling is service. Sterling returned to volunteer because he believes in the importance of giving back.  He explains, “I have an urge to do things for other people… sometimes we get caught up in our own ambitions, but volunteering  keeps me grounded and I love doing it; it makes me feel good.”

But how does a full-time student and semi-pro soccer player have time for volunteering? Sterling says, “You have to put the time aside first and then you have no excuse.” Sterling’s penchant for giving is mirrored by his favorite soccer player, Thierry Henry who recently agreed to donate $5000 to the non-profit Grassroots Soccer for every goal he scores in the upcoming season. Apart from the fact that he played for Sterling’s favorite team, Arsenal FC, Henry is his favorite player because he “was not only the top goal scorer, he was also an entertainer who liked to do crazy tricks because he knew the fans loved it.”

BYU coach Chris Watkins describes Sterling style of play on the field. “Sterling is a fierce competitor,” he says. “His commitment to our training and his desire to be his best really separate him as a top defender in our league.” When asked what makes Sterling unique, Coach Watkins replied, “(He) really understands the game and exactly what it takes to be his best.”

Sterling’s sharpness and stellar performance extends beyond the field as well. When he was a junior in high school, Sterling suffered a back injury that put him on the bench for 11 long months. Rather than sit idle, he started taking pictures of his teammates. Sterling, who loves what he calls, “the adventure of discovery” says he “poured his energy into photography and learned a lot in a year.” Pretty soon he was taking professional photos for engagements and at weddings- something he continues today. When asked why he likes photography he responded, “I get to interact with a lot of different people that I wouldn't come across otherwise.” 

One of Sterling’s favorite photography project reflects the interpersonal interaction he enjoys so much. In high school, he replicated the style of the infamous photo, Migrant Mother of the American Dust Bowl. Sterling walked around the streets of Palo Alto to complete a portrait series about homelessness. He would strike up conversations with homeless individuals, get to know them, and then ask if he could take their picture. “Homeless people are often dehumanized,” Sterling explained. “The project helped me learn about people- everyone has a different story.”

As for the future, Sterling aims to play professional soccer. In April he will graduate with a degree in Exercise Science and is interested in becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic. We at the South Franklin Community Center look forward to following Sterling’s success. We are lucky to have a friend and volunteer in Sterling!

A Self-Portrait by Sterling Hancock. To see more of Sterling's work visit his website.

South Franklin Soccer League Photos Taken by Sterling:

To see more South Franklin Soccer League photos taken by Sterling check our our Facebook Page.

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