Athlete's Perspective: Leading by Example

My name is Sam Villela and I play on the Rapids Special Olympics Unified soccer team. I've learned a lot since we started playing together. I've improved my defense, but also my offense. I like defense better, but it is important that I learn both to play on this team. The best part of playing with this group is practicing teamwork.

Monday at practice, we scrimmaged some of the coaches and staff, including Rapids players Drew Moor, Chris Klute and Matt Pickens. It was a good experience to play with professionals because it helped us to play even better. It helps us know that even if the team we face is older or more experienced than us, we can still compete.

At halftime of the scrimmage, my coaches announced that I would be the team captain. Drew Moor, who is the captain of the Rapids, gave me a captain arm band. I was shocked and happy at the same time. It has been a long time since I have been a leader of a group and I'm excited. I will tell my team to work hard and be professional. Even if we lose, we are still a team and we are still winners.

I'm excited for the match this Saturday against Special Olympics Texas. I was born in Dallas, so I look forward to facing my hometown. I know I can't be shy in front of the crowd at the stadium. I will show my confidence so my team plays the same way.