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Soccer Students Gain From Their Experience in Texas

April 21, 2011


The Iowa Lakes men’s and women’s soccer teams have returned from their trip to Texas with a new appreciation for life.

The squads were in Texas for a whirlwind tour – which also included soccer scrimmages at the Panda Cup Tournament.

The teams traveled overnight on a chartered bus, arriving in Texas around 2 p.m. Friday.  Jumping right into activities, they toured the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. 

“It was a great experience for our soccer student-athletes to see,” said Troy Larson, Athletic Director for Iowa Lakes.

The hospital doesn’t charge patients as everything is funded through donations.

Later Friday afternoon, the team met Nick James and his family.   Following an accident in 1998 in which he received severe head injuries; Nick is confined to a wheelchair and has had to re-learn many daily chores.  Although he still requires assistance, Nick now lives in his own house, thanks United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas. 

“Our student-athletes had a nice time with Nick,” said Larson.  “I think he felt like he was part of the team.”

The James family also attended the men’s soccer scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.

“Iowa Lakes will always have Laker fans in Arkansas,” Larson added.

Larson, along with Graduate Assistant Soccer Coaches Jessica Cannova and Jayke Vallette, attended a social Friday evening for coaches, sponsors and the organizers of the Panda Cup Soccer Tournament.  At the event, Larson spoke to the attendees and shared the story of how the Iowa Lakes students got to the event and how the citizens of Iowa donated the stuffed animals to the soccer students.  Both Vallette and Cannova were introduced to the crowd and thanked for their work. 

“It was nice to be able to share the Iowa Lakes story and it definitely put the Iowa Lakes ‘name’ on the minds of those participating,” Larson said. 

The highlight of Saturday was a Special Olympics soccer clinic held at the main soccer complex.

“Members of both our men’s and women’s teams jumped right in and assisted,” said Cannova.   “It was great to see our players helping in this event.  The smiles on the faces of the participants – as well as our players – were priceless.”

Students had a chance to also work with – and learn from – individuals on a homeless team as well as members of an amputee team.  The homeless program is an outreach service which is part of a worldwide effort designed to encourage and assist those living on the streets to improve their lives through soccer.  The amputee outreach improves the quality of life for people with disabilities in the less economically developed countries worldwide as they encourage the players through therapeutic recreation.  Students had a chance to meet a player who lost part of his leg in the Haiti earthquake.

“It was a great opportunity for our players to realize how blessed they are,” said Vallette.  “It made our students understand what it is like to have challenges such as these and they appreciated that these players have overcome a lot and were still so enthusiastic about the game of soccer.”  

Besides the warmer weather in Texas, there was another advantage to playing scrimmages in a southern state.

“Four of our players’ families are from Texas and were able to attend the scrimmages and cheer on the Lakers,” said Larson.

The men participated in two scrimmages – the women were able to play in three.  No scores are reported, in accordance with NJCAA rules.

The bus departed for Iowa late Sunday afternoon and students arrived back in Spencer Monday morning, just in time for classes.

“Thanks to everyone who contributed to this trip to make it a reality for our soccer students,” said Larson.  “It was a good trip and our student-athletes learned a lot of valuable lessons during the long weekend.”

Sponsors of the trip included Dr. Alex Pruitt, Orthopaedics P.C.; KICD, CD107.7 and Lite 104.9; Heiter Truck Line Inc.; and, Zen Sports Group. Also, Tradehome Shoe Store; Oakley Fertilizer Inc.; John & Carole Lea Cotton; JB Solomon Inc.; Cabernet Catering; and, Calfrac Well Service Corp. Others financially supporting the trip include Kevin L. Brown, C.B. Conover IV, Cathy Martin, Clemetta S. Hood, and Linda C. James. Other donations came from a variety of soccer supporters who attended the Chili Feed and Fun Night.

For More Information:

Contact: Troy Larson
Athletic Director
 Jessica Cannova
Graduate Assistant Women’s Coach
712-580-8640 Jayke Vallette
Graduate Assistant Men’s Coach

Questions or comments? Please email us at or call 712-362-2604 or 800-521-5054.
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