“I’m not the last, I’m not the middle, I’m the first,” Kim Crabbe says.
“I am proud to know I can hold that title forever. I’ll give back to the sport because
it’s done so much for me. The Outreach program is one of my biggest accolades.”
Coach Kim Crabbe instructs her players in drills before a futsal game. Crabbe’s grandchild, Khari Xavier Perry, joins her for the futsal session.
CRABBE’S outreach kids are growing up like she did,
living day-by-day. Their dreams are limited in a sport
dominated by pay-for-play. Grassroots level shapes a
player but doesn’t often make one. The door closes at
a certain point, one Crabbe is fighting.
“There’s a lot of loopholes with kids that go to the elite level,”
she says. “They’re asking for copies of birth certificates; a letter from
parents’ employers stating how long they’ve been working and why,”
she says. “It excludes a lot of my kids, targeting minorities. But the
club, I can’t say it’s them doing it. It’s coming down from someone
higher. I’m rocking the boat a bit because I want to know why this
is necessary just to play soccer?”
Crabbe knows that feeling.
“I loved the hype of playing in a game but sometimes it wasn’t always
positive,” she says. “I was representing at the national level for sure.”
In 2007, when Mia Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer
Hall of Fame, the ’86 national team was honored. Crabbe never
received an invitation, only a call from a former teammate asking
where she was. In shock, she sought answers.
After numerous calls, it was discovered an incorrect roster was
used for the invitation list, excluding other players too. When
Dorrance was inducted, she called him.
“I said, ‘Hey, there’s a possibility I might be at your induction,’”
she says. “He said, ‘Crabbe, you are family. But they Hall of Fame
never invited me.’”
History can’t be rewritten, but it can be hidden. Crabbe’s feel-ings
of exclusion have hurt but don’t control her. In 2016, she
was inducted into the Virginia-D.C. Soccer Hall of Fame, but
outreach is her true accolade.
“I’m not the last, I’m not the middle, I’m the first,” she says. “I am
proud to know I can hold that title forever. I’ll give back to the sport
because it’s done so much for me. The Outreach program is one of
my biggest accolades, second to the birth of my beautiful daughter
and biggest supporter, Jazmine Crabbe-Harris.”
Crabbe has created her own soccer community. The next season
will be her tenth year of coaching in Wilmington, and a ripple effect
has taken hold, including volunteers. She recalls one who originally
showed up to donate toys for a drive. When seeing the program, she
asked how she could get involved, later helping with games.
One night Crabbe received an unexpected text from the volunteer.
Like most who experienced loneliness during the pandemic, she was
no different. The outreach was her saving grace.
Growing up, it’s easy to believe in big dreams. A childlike sense of
wonder places the world in our palm. Yet not everyone has that privilege.
“A lot of these kids don’t understand hope and that drive that
gives you what you need,” says Marshburn.
For many of Crabbe’s players, the game is their hope. She gives her
personal cell phone number to all of them. Visits to their neighbor-hoods,
family homes and celebrations seal the bond. Donation drives
organized at games provide necessities for those in need.
Despite her goals and record-setting achievements, she doesn’t
put herself on a pedestal. Though she paved the way, she is never
an outsider; she is a friend. To her players she is the woman they
lovingly refer to as “Coach Kim.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about
Crabbe’s community outreach youth soccer program.