Opponents Help Girl Score in Soccer

  Michael Ann McKinlay, Church News staff writer

  • 6 November 2013

Article Highlights

  • Both the home team and the opposing team helped Sarah Madison score not one but two goals in their soccer game.
  • Sarah Madison, who has Down syndrome, has been part of the Highland High School soccer team for the last two years.
  • The sportsmanship displayed by both teams quickly received attention via social media and news outlets.

“A year from now, we will not remember what the score was, but we will never forget the Christlike act that took place for someone we didn’t even know.” —Neil Floyd, Madison High School head coach

What was supposed to be a straightforward high school girls conference matchup turned into a display of remarkable sportsmanship on both sides of the soccer field.

Players from the opposing team, Madison High School, from Rexburg, Idaho, helped a girl with Down syndrome, Sarah Roberts, score not one but two goals.

Sarah of Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, has been playing for the team for two years and although she had received playing time on the field, she had never scored a goal. It was the “mission” of her teammates and the opposing team to help Sarah score her first soccer goal.

“It wasn’t just one girl helping Sarah; it was just kind of a team effort. They [the team] decided to help her,” Madison athletic director Erick Wills said to the Post Register, the local newspaper.

Sarah came into the game during the second half, while her team had a comfortable 5-1 lead. With the encouragement and help of both teams, Sarah kept the ball in play and scored a goal.

“My wife called me and could barely tell me what happened,” Jeff Roberts, the local seminary principal in Pocatello and Sarah’s father, told the Church News. “It was a very emotional thing, and it meant the world to Sarah.”

According to Brother Roberts, after scoring the first goal, the Madison girls made sure Sarah got the ball again and helped her score her second goal of the night. Highland won the game 7-1.

“We saw Highland reaching out to Sarah, and we wanted to do that too,” Carli Gorton of the Madison team said to the Post Register. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Most of the girls who participated in the soccer game are LDS. It took only days for the story to reach local media outlets in Pocatello and Idaho Falls, thanks to social media and the news outlets on the high schools’ websites.

Brother Roberts said he was truly grateful for the opportunity both teams gave Sarah that night on the soccer field.

“For us, it means she gets to be center stage and that the kids sense her goodness,” he said. “It’s just nice to see that students respond to that.”

The head coach for Madison, Neil Floyd, was also grateful for the sportsmanship displayed by his girls.

“A year from now, we will not remember what the score was,” he wrote on the school’s website. “But we will never forget the Christlike act that took place for someone we didn’t even know.”