My name is Mark. I am getting ready to start my tenth season of power soccer. I find it hard to describe what the sport has brought into my life. I have always loved sports, but when you’re born with a disability there is very little chance you will get to compete in one. You get to be the team manager, the scorekeeper, the one always on the sidelines looking in.
The first time a soccer guard was bolted on to my wheelchair and I got to maneuver the ball, I was hooked. Many players will tell you the same story. For the first time in your life, you get to be part of a truly competitive team. You get to be coached, score a goal, and give one up. Enjoy the “thrill of victory” and the “agony of defeat”. Just like every other athlete. But there’s more; we travel and meet people from all over the country in the pursuit of our sport. Power Soccer has even taken me to France. Most of the players in this game are younger, grade school through college age. A few of us are older. I cannot say enough about the parents and spouses who make this organization run. They’re the ones taking the players to practice, helping on the sideline, and taking their family to the weekend tournaments. They drive the sport. This is a grass roots organization, supported by the parents, spouses and players themselves. Power Soccer is one big family, because we have much more in common than the sport, we all deal with a disability in our daily life. Having others to talk to, their problems and solutions, and the support we all give one another is just another wonderful gift of this sport.
A little about me. I grew up in South Dakota as the ‘handicapped kid’ in a small town. I was fortunate to have lots of support from family and friends. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Microbiology from Southwest Minnesota in 1977. A year later I got a job as a Microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in St. Louis, and 36 years later I am still here. I manage a Branch of 25 dedicated professionals protecting the nation’s food supply, a job that we do very well and I am proud to be a part of. My wonderful wife of 31 years, Ann supports me in Power Soccer and everything else. Our 26 year old daughter Maren is in dental school and of course, we are very proud parents. Ten years ago Power Soccer came along and has added another amazing dimension to my life for which I am truly grateful.
Mark is also co-founder of St. Louis Power Soccer United