by Hannah Matula - University of Texas
Kayla Shea, a defender on the University of Maryland’s women’s soccer team, says getting involved with the More Than Me Movement was never a hesitation for her and her teammates. Playing soccer at such a high level automatically puts the girls in the spotlight particularly for young players hoping to reach Division I athletics, but they realized that their impact did not have to stop at inspiring their fans while on the field and with their play.
After connecting with Tyler Beede of the More Than Me Movement, Kayla and her teammates hit the ground running by raising $500 through t-shirt sales for their local Make-A-Wish Foundation. Next came the Walk for Wishes on the National Mall in Washington, which is a community-wide effort to help grant wishes for local children affected by life threatening medical conditions. The girls participated in the walk and orchestrated a mini soccer clinic on the mall where cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their families could play with and learn from the athletes. “It was awesome to see the smiles on these young kids’ faces despite the struggle they were going through, and it was so special to know that we can help put that smile there,” Kayla said when asked about the experience.
Reaching out to those in need and getting involved in community service is an integral part of the team’s dynamic. They realize their community is what supports them so while giving back to it could feel like an obligation, it is something they want to strive for. Kayla mentioned that without them they would not have a reason for what they do and for playing the game they love, so serving the community goes beyond things like statistics and the success of the team.
Starting at a young age playing and watching all kinds of sports, Kayla can easily relate to having the same dreams as most of the kids she encounters. She says her team feels very fortunate to be where they are and able to experience what they do, which is why they aim to be the best role models they can be in all aspects of their lives. Kayla encourages other collegiate athletes around the country to give back to their communities as well, as it has been the favorite part of her three years as a Division I athlete.
According to Kayla Shea, “The More Than Me Movement to me means being a part of something that is bigger and greater than yourself.” She understands the giant platform she has been given by being a collegiate athlete at such a high level and expresses that the Movement allows her to do useful and worthwhile things with that platform, like supporting the community that has given her a reason to play the sport she loves and assisting in bettering the lives of children in need.