A summertime disappointment for a soccer team has turned into a Christmas blessing for children at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Last spring, members of the Velocity girls U16 team were crowned champions at the US Youth Soccer Maine State Cup tournament, qualifying them to compete in the Region I tournament in West Virginia over the July 4 weekend.

The girls, members of the Velocity Soccer Club in Gorham and Saco, quickly began making plans to raise money for the costly trip.

The team, made up of 15- and 16-year-old girls from several southern Maine towns, worked hard selling homemade Christmas ornaments and conducting bottle drives and car washes.

Then, just one week before the tournament, the team got the bad news that a clerical error had listed the all-girl squad as a boys’ team and they would not be competing.

Coach Rick Doyon said, “We dreaded breaking the news to the girls because we knew how hard they worked to make this happen.”

The news brought tears and frustration, followed by an opportunity to talk about responding to life’s disappointments.

“There are some things in life that we have no control over,” said Doyon. “But we do have control of how we choose to move forward.”

The girls were devastated but not defeated. They chose to exemplify the club’s motto: “It’s not just about soccer.”

Their tears were barely dry when team members opted to donate all $3,788 of their trip money to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital to benefit young patients.

Natalia Profenno, 15, of Saco, a Thornton Academy sophomore and a forward on the team, said, “We automatically knew what we wanted to do with the money. (The children’s hospital) is really important to our club. It felt great to do something for the kids and their families.”

Teammate Sarah Champagne, 15, of Standish said the decision was unanimous.

“Our club has been very involved at Barbara Bush over the past few years, volunteering our time on Sundays to engage with the patients,” said Champagne, a Bonny Eagle High School sophomore and the team’s outside midfielder. “What made the decision so easy was the fact that while we were dealing with the problem of not going to regionals, there were people struggling to go through something much harder than we were.”

Team captain Courtney Cushing, 15, a Gorham High School sophomore, agreed.

“To see the looks on the staff’s faces when we handed them the check was an amazing feeling, because you know the money will go to help out kids who really need the support,” said Cushing.

Doyon said that when it came to making the best of a bad situation, the U16 team rose to the occasion.

“These girls did the right thing,” said Doyon. “They had no control over what happened in the tournament but they did have control of that money. It might not be enough to build a hospital wing but it was enough to make a few kids happy.”


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