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Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
A son of a special education teacher. The oldest child of eight children. The son of a Mexican immigrant who, due to deportation, can no longer reside with him in the U.S.
Each of these boys come from very different backgrounds, yet all share the same desire: to play soccer at the highest level they can.
Yet, for so many, the ability to make that dream a reality comes down to one thing that is really hard to come by: money.
In recent years, club soccer has become one of the most sought after and expensive sports in the U.S., costing anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 annually, not including travel and coaching fees, according to USA Today.
And while you can avoid this cost by letting your child ride the recreation and high school soccer wave, you may want to think again. USA Today also found that 95 percent of women and 93 percent of men who went on to play in the NCAA played club soccer as a main avenue to get there.
Nobody understands what it takes to reach a high level of soccer more than Clayson and Kelsee Parry of Clinton, who coach these boys as well as several others in their U-13 and U-14 premier club teams.
Both of them grew up playing club and high school soccer before continuing on to a higher level. Kelsee Parry played for Sparta and Fremont High School, spent a summer playing in Manchester United, then following graduation, played for the Real Salt Lake women's team in the WPSL League. Clayson Parry played for a club out of North Ogden as well as Weber High School. Following a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he played for Weber State University, where he won two national championships as the team's leading scorer and was named to the All-Tournament first team.
Both loved the opportunities soccer gave them and wanted to give back by coaching rising talent in their local area of Weber and Davis counties. What they found, however, was that it took much more than talent and hard work for these kids to be able to play. It took lots and lots of money, and it only increased as the skill level of the players increased.
"As our teams progressed, we started to travel more and enter more tournaments," Kelsee Parry said. "Clubs provide a partial scholarship for club and state fees, but as athletes get better, there are large portions not covered at all. So Clayson, a few other parents and I started to come up with ways for the boys to earn money."
The Parrys, along with several of their players and other parents, spent hours picking up garbage at fields and selling fundraiser cards at parades, art festivals, fairs and door-to-door. The boys even spent several hours cleaning their club's indoor soccer facility, sweeping, mopping and scrubbing bathrooms to help pay fees.
It was during one of these fundraising endeavors that Kelsee Parry was approached by someone who suggested she start a nonprofit organization.
"While running around cleaning and selling cards, a mom said to me that I should start a nonprofit, and it just kind of stuck with me," Kelsee Parry said. "As I grew more busy with school and work, it was so hard to keep up with all of the fundraising. I also became incredibly frustrated as some kids were not given the same opportunity to play as others were. We had a growing network and parents who were struggling to afford for their kids to keep playing."
So, in an effort to help the players, with the goal to branch out and help other players, Kelsee Parry set out to create a nonprofit that is fittingly called Everybody Plays.
In the current soccer structure, there have been rule changes to protect players as they progress to help prevent injuries and make playing fair, she said.
"However, there have been no actions made toward changing the price structure so that kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate in competitive youth soccer," she said.
Parry said that she wants to help those youths playing soccer chase their dreams.
"The United States misses out on incredible talent because they don't have the capability to pay $2,000 a year at minimum. My hope for the Everybody Plays nonprofit organization is to help bridge that gap but also help kids break the cycle of poverty," she said. "Providing kids with the means to play while holding them accountable for grades, their conduct in school and in their community, and requiring them to participate in community service mimics that of a college scholarship. The goal isn't to create professional players, though why not dream big? The goal is to give them an opportunity to chase their soccer goals in their youth and into college no matter how deep their parents' pockets are."
Because of some generous donors, last year, Everybody Plays was able to provide five kids with full scholarships that covered the monthly fees, indoor fees and registration costs, as well as four others with partial scholarships that covered their registration fees.
"It has been so neat to receive funds from donors to help these kids play," Kelsee Parry said. "We hope to continue our efforts for many years to come."
For more information, go to everybodyplays2017.com
Arianne Brown is a mother of eight who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.
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