The Appalachian State University athletics community came out in full force on Monday afternoon, having more than 100 student-athletes volunteer in the Autism Speaks 4v4 Soccer Festival at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex.
Organized by Kelsey Strickland, daughter of head women’s soccer coach Sarah Strickland and a freshman at Watauga High School, the event invited all ages to participate in co-ed kindergarten, first-second grade, third-fourth grade, fifth-sixth grade, seventh-eighth grade, adult open division, high school open division and adult leagues with teams from 4-6 players. In all, 30 teams were on-hand for the festival and all of the proceeds will go to the self-contained classrooms for special needs children in the Watauga County Schools Exceptional Children Program.
On the day, Kelsey Strickland collected $800 to use for supplies in the self-contained classrooms, ranging from basic needs such as pencils, pens and paper to more advanced needs such as communication tools. In all, counting bake goods that were donated for a bake sale, more than $1,000 was donated.
More than 100 student-athletes overall came out to help officiate, organize games and hang out with many of the children who are in the self-contained classrooms. Student-athletes from men’s and women’s soccer, men’s basketball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball, track and field and more were on-hand throughout the entire four-hour festival to help in whatever way needed. Student-athletes were also more than happy to sign young fans’ posters, talk with them and take photos and selfies.
Appalachian State Cheerleading and Yosef were also present to cheer on the games and take photos and hang out with fans of all ages.
Also participating on the other side of things were the Appalachian State athletic trainers. They formed a team and competed in the adult league, representing athletics well by battling hard on the field and then also helping out and volunteering on the sidelines when they weren’t competing.
The Stricklands will still be collecting donations until Sept. 12. Anyone interested in donating can email Sarah Strickland at [email protected].
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