Valentine and Elizabeth Gomez have used their mutual love of soccer and longstanding relationship with the Covington Family YMCA as a means to strengthen and enrich the community to which they proudly belong.
by Chris Bridges
When describing Valentine and Elizabeth Gomez, one must first consider the strong sense of community pride they display in virtually every activity they pursue as a couple. They do it not for recognition but out of a genuine love for Covington and Newton County.
Their involvement as volunteer coaches in the Covington Family YMCA soccer program elevates the positives originating from a shared joy that they derive from serving others.
Valentine and Elizabeth have been married for 13 years. He played soccer at Eastside High School and has pursued the sport for most of his life. Valentine even had the opportunity to train with a professional team in Mexico in 2006. When he returned to the United States, he continued playing, and once the couple’s son, Jonathan, began competing in the sport, Valentine naturally morphed into a coach.
“Our son began playing for the Covington YMCA, and we got to know the staff,” Elizabeth said. “Valentine and I both enjoyed the sport so we wanted to become involved. Once we got started, we never looked back. We still enjoy being involved as much today as when we first began.”
Valentine coaches a U13 team for the Galaxy, a travel program based at the Covington YMCA. Every spring and fall, he sets out to pass on what he has learned to a younger generation. Elizabeth played soccer in middle school but admits she never got serious about the sport. She, too, has coached recreation teams but now considers herself more of a Team Mom or team manager.
“When I met Valentine, I figured one day we would be involved in coaching young people, especially once we had kids,” Elizabeth said. “Our son has shown a talent for the game since he was little. We knew as he got older [that] we would want to be involved to some degree in helping coach him.”
Valentine and Elizabeth also have a 10-year-old daughter, Valeria. She plays soccer and softball, and her mother admits she bounces “back and forth” between the two. The Gomezes definitely consider soccer something of a family tradition. Two of Valentine’s nephews play adult soccer through the Covington YMCA. Elizabeth and Valentine both value seeing young people enjoy the sport, even as they learn life lessons through its inherent ups and downs.
“We want to support and lift up our local children and to try and make Covington a better place. We really do have a love for this community.”Elizabeth Gomez
“Through the years we have been involved, we have become close with so many kids,” Elizabeth said. “That is what has kept us going. We want to support and lift up our local children and to try and make Covington a better place. We really do have a love for this community. You get to interact with a lot of people and kids. The programs offered through the YMCA add so much to this area.”
The Gomez family’s sense of community pride extends beyond the area soccer fields. They attend Calvary Baptist Church, where they are active in the band. Valentine is a mechanic by trade and Elizabeth is a real estate agent, and their professions put them in direct contact with even more local residents.
“I don’t think either one of us could imagine walking away from being so involved,” Elizabeth said. “The YMCA is a great opportunity to meet other local people. It is a great way to become involved and to give back to Covington and the surrounding areas.”
Their dedication has not gone unnoticed.
“The Gomezes truly love to see people of all ages learning how to play and enjoying soccer or any sport,” Covington Family YMCA Executive Director Louly Hay-Kapp said. “Having volunteers who are always willing to inspire and motivate children is such a gift to our Y and to our community. The Gomezes understand the value of community and do their part to make our community so special.”
Valentine and Elizabeth admit they have built a number of lasting friendships through their years of giving back.
“So many people have pride in our community,” Elizabeth said. “We aren’t the only ones. When we see young people learning about a sport and developing an interest in something positive, then we know we are making a difference. That is what is truly important for us and our family. We truly appreciate the opportunity we have through the Covington YMCA in making a positive difference locally.”