Soccer players lead the first district-wide camp for LIFE Skills students

May 19, 2022– More than 80 CFISD football players from all 12 high schools came together May 17 to conduct the first-ever district-wide skills camp – Camp Courage – for middle and high school students enrolled in LIFE Skills classes.

The camp began as a campus-wide effort at Cypress Falls High School in 2019 when Head Coach Chris Brister borrowed an idea from fellow Deer Park resident Chris Massey. Golden Eagle soccer players led drills for a group of approximately 15 students enrolled in the LIFE Skills program, which helps students with special needs learn functional communication and academic skills.

After a two-year camp hiatus due to the pandemic, Coach Brister Ray Zepeda, CFISD athletic director, suggested all campuses should join the effort in 2022.

“He liked the idea of ​​hosting it as one big CFISD event and I’m glad we did because it made the whole thing better,” said Brister.


The other 11 high school soccer programs each dispatched seven players to escort and encourage students as they traveled between the Golden Eagle-sponsored practice stations. Campus athletic trainers provided extra bottled water, and parents provided extra supervision.

To encourage participation, middle and high school LIFE Skills coordinators reached out to potentially interested students and distributed registration forms. About 80 students originally registered, and about 40 attended on May 17th.

“This allowed us to double down on the escorts and lead to more positive interactions,” Brister said. “The performance of our athletes was great. The best part was seeing all the football players trying to compete in the fall, working side by side for a bigger cause.”

Malik Slone, a sophomore at Jersey Village High School, had had a positive experience working at Camp Courage. He connected with Cypress Falls grad student Haley Hayes, one of the first campers to show up early for the event.


“Haley is a very kind and generous person who wasn’t confident at first, but I feel like I’ve helped her create a bigger personality for herself,” Slone said. “Now she’s in a mindset where she can do whatever she wants – throw a football, do a tackle, whatever. Camp Courage wasn’t about ourselves, it was about helping others who couldn’t do things we can do. It was about what I learned and what I can do to continue this experience. I would be the first to volunteer if we did it again.”

Zepeda hopes the camp will continue to grow in the years to come.

“Camp Courage is a great example of what makes CFISD and the CFISD community such a special place. We’re lucky to have so many athletes and kids to take care of each other,” he said. “I appreciate the leadership of Cy Falls Campus Sports Coordinator Chris Brister in organizing and leading this great community service event. I am also so thankful for the many athletes and coaches who came out to support many of our special needs students and provide a great event. That became clear after a short time everything Participating children benefited from working together and having fun together as a group of CFISD students.”



Photo by Maria Colmenares, Cypress Falls HS

Soccer players from Cypress Springs and Cypress Falls watch as Camp Courage attendee Miles Burrell, a second year Langham Creek student, drives through a tackle dummy during Camp Courage May 17

Photo by Maria Colmenares, Cypress Falls HS

Cypress Ridge High School student Derrick Shinette, 20, and Cypress Ranch High School student Jason Dennis, 72, supervise a camper doing a walkthrough exercise during Camp Courage.

Cypress Park High School football players support their classmate, Junior Christopher Ramos, at Camp Courage.

Cypress Falls High School football players Isaiah Singleton (11) and Jakob Leavatts (8) lead a practice station at Camp Courage May 17 in Cypress Falls along with Cypress Woods High School student Scott Bailey. More than 80 soccer players and 40 campers took part.

Photo by Maria Colmenares, Cypress Falls HS


Bridgeland High School football player Aidan Hall assists senior student Zachary Portzline as he participates in a practice session at Camp Courage May 17.

Jersey Village High School sophomore football player Malik Slone enjoyed working with Cypress Falls Junior Haley Hayes at Camp Courage on May 17th.

Photo by Maria Colmenares, Cypress Falls HS

Cypress Falls football players react when Raymond Higuera, a Langham Creek High School freshman, dies on April 17.

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