T[dropcap]he desire to be cool drives every middle school and high school student. Cool is often defined by the way you look, the things you own, or the friends you have.
The truth is, what’s cool is making other kids cool.
Meet Grace Walters, a past participant and now an E-Soccer coach. She believes that people helping other people is cool. Recently Sarah Frank, an author for the San Ramon Patch, an online news magazine, posted the following article about the impact of E-Soccer.
Learning Disability Can’t Slow Down Local Teen
By Sarah Frank (San Ramon Patch)
Grace Walters looks like your typical high school student.
She’s a junior at Cal High this year, looking forward to her senior year and eventually college. For Grace, though, life wasn’t always this bright. When Grace was in second grade, her parents, Joseph and Paige, were given a dim prognosis for their daughter’s academic future. Plainly speaking, they were told Grace had a learning disability that would prevent her from ever graduating from high school. There would be no way Grace could even hope to pass the high school exit exam, given her disabilities, according to the special education team. Her only hope was to get a GED and go right to work. Talk about a dismal prognosis for a second grader.
In fact, this diagnosis made Grace not even want to try, academically, early on because she had been told she would fail. To all the people who told Grace that she would fail, she has this to say, “I made it and you said I couldn’t. I haven’t been doing as well as I could have been doing in school because you told me I was going to fail.”
For both third and fourth grade, Grace went to school every day, but had the help of a one-on-one aide to help her with schoolwork. Grace’s desk was positioned close to her teacher’s so she could ask the many questions she had without feeling embarrassed that others in the class would hear her or make fun of her.
In addition, her parents provided after school tutors in hopes that any extra academics would booster Grace’s skills. Even though the family had received dismal news in second grade, they did not give up hope. Her parent’s belief gave Grace the will to continue.
What really turned life around for Grace was E-Soccer, a program she first heard about at her church. A family friend, Marina Nix, would drive Grace to and from weekly Saturday E-Soccer practices in Redwood City, a trek that would often take an hour-and-a-half in each direction, but a journey that would turn Grace’s life around.
The “e” in E-Soccer stands for exceptional, and what Grace discovered was that children of all abilities were encouraged to play. For a child who was struggling academically or even had physical disabilities or impairments, scoring that one goal brought smiles to the faces of every team member.
Together, children from all physical and mental levels became a team and worked toward a common goal, having fun while playing soccer in a supportive environment.
Through success on the soccer field, Grace was able to find success in
school. In 10th grade, she took that high school exit exam that nobody
thought she would pass, and she passed it with flying colors. Her plans for
the future include two years at Diablo Valley College before transferring to a four-year college. She plans to major in the arts since she has discovered a love of photography.
She has also started giving back to a program that helped her so much by becoming an E-Soccer coach.
Grace wants to be a model for other children who struggle academically or physically-she is now their inspiration. The success of E-Soccer for Grace and others is becoming more widespread, and the program is offered now throughout the Bay Area.
For more information about the E-Soccer program, a place where all children are welcomed and succeed, visit soccer.e-sports.org