ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University men's soccer team has landed a top-rated local recruit who promises to bring excitement and enthusiasm, along with perspective, to this year's squad.
Zachary Cain, a nine-year-old from Easley who is battling ongoing Severe Intracranial Pressure, announced his intention to become a part of AU's team at a mock news conference on Friday at the Abney Athletic Center. The grade-schooler signed a "national letter of intent" thanks to a national organization called Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that connects local collegiate athletic teams with children facing serious and chronic illnesses. As a team member, Zachary will attend Trojan practices, games, team dinners, events, and more.
Following an introduction from AU Director of Sports Marketing, Caroline Fulton and comments from Head Coach Michael Zion and AU Vice President for Athletics, Bert Epting, Zachary made it official by signing the paperwork while being flanked by his parents and Coach Zion, with family members and the men's and women's soccer teams and several staff members looking on.
"Zach shows great determination and works hard," said Epting. "We are excited to have him as part of our team."
"Caroline brought this opportunity to us and of course, we were on board right away," said Zion. "The support from Bert and the athletic department has been fantastic. Everyone chipped in to make this something special for all involved. I am excited to see the impact this will have on our players, soccer program, and athletic department. By adding a teammate as resilient, brave, and determined as Zachary, we will undoubtedly see something special develop."
After the mock news conference, Zachary, who is also a Boy Scout and is in the midst of testing for his brown belt in karate, played some soccer with the players, showing off his abilities.
"Everyone has been friendly and so wonderful," said Zachary's mother, Kathryn. "He'll be practicing once a week with the team."
"From our standpoint, it's important for him to be part of something larger and to see people a little older than him going out and giving their all every day, while working together as a team," added his father, David. "It gives him something to look forward to and to be a part of. It will help him build his confidence and be all that he can be."
Anderson is scheduled to open the regular season, Thursday, Aug. 30, when the Trojans play host to Lees-McRae at Trojan Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.