Mass Spirit Women’s Soccer looks ahead to July, when they will compete in their 9th consecutive National Veteran’s Cup Tournament, now known as the US Adult Soccer Fest hosted by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). In 2009, local players Kristin Taylor and Stacey Cawley founded Mass Spirit and entered a women’s Over 30 team to compete in their first tournament at The Fields at Progin Park in Lancaster, MA. Since then, the organization has grown to support three teams in the Over 30, Over 40 and Over 50 divisions of the tournament and has taken home 5 national championships.
The women of Mass Spirit live and play soccer in New England throughout the year in various leagues, including the Eastern Massachusetts Women’s League, the Suburban league, and the Old Colony Women’s Soccer League. Each comes from a different background, but all love to play soccer competitively and strive to make a difference in their local communities. Not only are the women talented individual players, but many also serve as coaches and soccer program directors for Mass Youth Soccer as well as High School and College programs.
Mass Spirit is rooted on the principle of giving back and expects players to be involved in their communities and, as such, support local organizations. As a team, they participate in events that support charities in their communities.
This year Mass Spirit will play for two causes that directly impacted their club – Breast Cancer and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). All teams are pulling together to rally behind three of the most courageous people they know – Kristin Taylor (KT), young soccer star 10-year-old Riley, and her mom, Melanie Vogel.
In March of 2016, club founder, president, mentor, and goalie, KT was diagnosed with breast cancer. This immediately sidelined her from soccer, so she could focus on taking on a very aggressive treatment plan to beat her cancer. Mass Spirit missed her greatly at the 2016 USASA Veteran’s Cup in Denver, as her O40 squad fell to Virginia in the semifinals and her O30s lost to Dallas in the finals.
Since last spring, KT’s battle included a double mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy for the last 13 months. Friday, April 28th will mark her last chemo appointment. Anyone who knows KT will attest to her strength, both physically and mentally, in all that she does. As Mass Spirit prepares to recapture USASA titles this summer in Nashville, KT will make her return as goalie. The Mass Spirit teams will wear the breast cancer ribbon on their sleeves to remind them of her fight and the fight that women battling breast cancer face every day.
Riley is the daughter of super mom and Mass Spirit defender, Melanie. Riley is a beautiful, feisty 10 year old girl who started having seizures just before her first birthday and was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC). TSC is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in various organs, primarily the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, skin and lungs. For her entire life, Riley has worked hard to overcome developmental delays because of seizures. She bravely participated in new drug trials to manage her brain tumors and complications with kidney disease. She underwent brain surgery in the first grade and continues to fight this very aggressive and painful disease. She is currently awaiting brain surgery again. As Riley battles the effects of TSC, her mom, Melanie, raises awareness for the disease and others impacted by it. She founded “Rock4Riley” which hosts annual events that raise significant funds for TSC research and treatments. This summer at the USASA Adult Soccer Fest, all Mass Spirit teams will also play for Melanie and Riley. Riley’s charity “Rock 4 Riley” logo will be printed above the team’s numbers along with Riley’s silhouette.
Mass Spirit feels fortunate to have such strong and intrepid teammates. With such inspirations, they look forward to taking on the toughest competition that USASA Soccer Fest and Veteran’s Cup has to offer. “This year is for you, KT, Mels, and Riley!”