Although sophomore Molly Wicker isn't a soccer player, an organization that focuses on helping kids through soccer really spoke to her.
For her personal project at school, Molly decided to focus on Kick for Nick, an organization founded in honor of Nick Madaras, a U.S. solider killed in 2006 while serving in Iraq.
Molly organized a soccer ball collection as well as a 3-on-3 tournament that begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Robert Morris University. All proceeds will benefit the foundation.
Patch: Why did you decide to take on this specific cause?
Molly: This cause jumped out at me, not because I play soccer — I don’t. I run cross-country and track and field — but because of the ingenuity of the cause. I have always been interested in service projects, and have pulled off one other rather significant one in the past, but this was a new cause, working with a new group of people.
Kick For Nick was started in 2006 to commemorate the life of a fallen United States soldier. Nick Madaras was an avid high school soccer player, and he noticed when he was in Iraq that soccer was a popular sport among the children, but they lacked the proper materials. He was inspired by stories of soccer ending conflict in the Ivory Coast and he aspired to collect as many soccer balls as he could, and eventually bring them back to the children on his next leave. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to do so. However, this cause speaks to me because it deals with something so simple, soccer, that we as Americans take for granted.
However, what we fail to realize is that soccer has the power to bridge gaps that we never thought it could. The other amazing thing about his charity is that it has no political affiliation, which to me was very important. I find that so often our thoughts of the Middle East tend to be politically oriented, and it was refreshing to see a cause as simple and pure as this one.
From the very beginning, a quote by Franklin Foer has been a huge inspiration: “Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. It is a perfect window into the crosscurrents of today’s world, with all of its joys and sorrows. It’s a sport with real stakes — one that is capable of ruining regimes and launching liberation movements.”
Patch: How hard was it to pull this effort together?
Molly: When I started out, I realized just how much harder it is to organize a community event like this and pull it off with any measure of success. Luckily, I have had some great people who have all been extremely willing and ready to help at any point in the process. Michael Pastor, a teacher at the high school and girls soccer coach, who is my assigned mentor for the project, has been a great support throughout the entire time, from the moment I sprung the idea. Tim Felt, who runs the Ohio River Valley Football Club and the Sentinels, has also been an invaluable resource. I would not be able to pull off this tournament without his help. He has provided access to so many resources that have made the project grow by leaps and bounds. Ultimately, the event came down to a lot of planning and preparation that will hopefully pay off in the end.
Patch: How many soccer balls have you collected and in how much time?
Molly: Right now, I am not quite sure exactly how many balls have been collected, mostly because we are waiting until the very last possible moment to remove the collection bins from the school. Hopefully, we can get at least 20 balls by Friday, the night of the tournament, and we expect more to come in that night. If people are interested in donating soccer balls, they can drop them off at any school in the Quaker Valley School District. Collection bins have been placed in all of the school offices for easy accessibility.
Patch: How do you expect to deliver the balls?
Molly: The soccer balls will be shipped to the organization’s headquarters in Connecticut. However, they first have to be deflated, and each one signed with Nick’s name.
Patch: What can people expect at the benefit on Friday?
Molly: The Kick For Nick Benefit Soccer Tournament will take place from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m. Friday. It will be held at the Robert Morris Island Sports Center in the Golf Bubble. People are invited to pre-form a team of three to five players and come up with a creative costume/uniform. Prizes will be given out to the team with the most creative uniform. There will be food, music, and a few surprises! We are encouraging people to register their teams online. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the event, we will not be accepting team registrations at the door. People are also encouraged to bring gently used or new soccer balls to the event for donation.
For more information, or to register, visit kickfornick.orvfc.org.