Here is Renee's interview with Suzanne McKenzie, Executive Director of the Ucal McKenzie Breakaway Foundation!
She chats about the origin of the foundation, which honors her late husband Ucal McKenzie, a high school counselor and soccer coach who made an incredible impact on his students. She also details the main goals of the UMBF—to teach mental and physical health skills that empower kids on the field and in their daily lives.
Marking their 10th year as an organization, the Ucal McKenzie Breakaway Foundation has teamed up with Hartford Public Schools, Boys and Girls Club of Hartford, and more to improve the lives of Hartford youth!
For more information, visit UcalBreakaway.com!
Listen to full interview here:
UMBF’s motto is “For soccer. For life.” Our award-winning programming serves city girls and boys ages 8-18 by uniquely combining soccer, health, art and mentorship. Our comprehensive events and activities are offered in accessible, state-of-the-art facilities and feature coaching by leading area talent. Youth learn techniques to play stronger and harder—to be prepared for what comes their way. We also encourage cross-cultural learning and communication, and provide heart health, CPR training, concussion and hydration education, nutrition workshops, as well as arts activities.
About Ucal McKenzie
The foundation is dedicated and inspired by the work of Ucal McKenzie. Ucal was an incredibly talented high school counselor, varsity soccer coach and city youth mentor who connected with each and every one of his students and players. Counseling was not a profession for him, but a calling. Ucal’s laughter was warm and infectious, and no matter how you felt, he made life look better. His love of music, and particularly music he could dance to, was indicative of his love for his native Jamaica. Ucal’s s vibrant and passionate spirit echoed throughout the halls. A dedicated doer, Ucal never missed a moment to give of his time. He was the Peer Mentor advisor, coordinated the Senior Faculty Scholarship Committee, advised the Break Dancing Club and worked with Dorchester youth as Coach at Valeo Futbol Academy. Ucal was just as passionate about playing soccer as he was in coaching his team. The spirit of his words and actions buoyed his players in both victory and defeat. His humble demeanor mirrored his inner and outward beauty. His selfless nature and manner were an inspiration.
Above all, and most importantly, Ucal loved his family. Not only was he a loving husband and a gentle human being, but also he was a believer in the good in all people. Ucal truly was a special human being. It was said, "There never was any heart truly great and generous that was not also tender and compassionate." That was Ucal McKenzie.
In 2009, Ucal passed away suddenly after suffering cardiac arrest playing a semi-pro soccer game in Boston. Our work to bring leading soccer, art and health education, including hands-only cpr and AED awareness, is dedicated to Ucal.