MCA soccer team did more than just score goals

teen_mca_soccer    The Mount Carmel Academy soccer team achieved much more than the Division I state title against St. Scholastica Feb. 25 at Tad Gormley Stadium. Throughout the year, the team gave back to the community through numerous service projects, including working with the Miracle League Foundation and the ARC of New Orleans.
    One special project raised money and awareness for the Ashlee Stokes Foundation’s Ashlee’s Angels program. Team members had met Ashlee Stokes, a young woman whose life was forever changed after she was hit by a drunk driver in 2008, and they were inspired to help her.
Free designated drivers
    Since 2010, Ashlee’s Angels has provided a free designated driver service in St. Tammany Parish on Friday and Saturday nights to citizens who have been consuming alcohol. The program’s motto – “Swallow your pride and call for a ride” – encourages drivers not to put anyone’s life in danger by getting behind the wheel of a car after consuming harmful substances.
     “It would be a good thing to expose all of the girls to Ashlee and her story,” Mount Carmel coach Pavlos Petrou said. “I think Ashlee’s story is something that the girls can directly relate to.”
     “Meeting Ashlee for the first time was an eye opener for me,” said junior Caitlin Robert. “We had heard her story, but actually meeting her put things on a whole different level. She is just like us; she was so spirited and loving toward our team.”
    Ashlee Stokes’ mother, Karen Stokes, detailed the interaction between Ashlee and the team from a different perspective.
    “Ashlee loves being around young people and sharing her story,” Karen Stokes said. “She is out there trying to make a difference because she doesn’t want to see anyone else go through what she’s been through.”
More goals, more money
    Throughout the season, team members collected donations from family members, friends and members of the Mount Carmel Academy community. Donors had the option of pledging a certain amount per goal or making a flat contribution.
    The team scored a total of 168 goals by the end of the season. At the first playoff game on Feb. 2, the Cubs presented Ashlee with a $6,500 check.
     “Looking at Ashlee, you realize that soccer is just a game and that there are much more serious things in life,” Petrou said.
     “We were very happy and excited that the team actually did work for us,” Karen Stokes said. “It was great that the team went out there and hustled and got donations from people and explained why they were doing what they were doing.”
    The fund-raising goal had a positive effect on the team’s momentum.
     “Ashlee inspired us to play to our best potential, knowing that every goal we scored would raise money for her foundation,” senior Brooke Gros said.
    It also provided team players with a perspective on drinking and driving.
    For details on Stokes or the foundation, visit www.ashleestokes.com or www.ashleesangels.com.

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