By Marquel Slaughter
Gracie Joyce has had her battles growing up with cerebral palsy. A 10-year-old soccer player that just finished her second season with the Stahlka Sharks, she has become quite comfortable on the pitch, where she, her teammates and opposing teams see her as another soccer player that is just having fun and helping her team win where she can.
A champion in her own right, Joyce never sees herself any differently than other children, which was evident in the Sharks’ regular season finale, according to one of her coaches, Rob Nagel.
“Frankly, she struggles with walking and running, and she’s not using it as an excuse,” said Nagel. “I think one of the things that makes Gracie a champion was something that happened today that nobody else saw. She was sitting on the bench, one of the girls was coming off tired, and Gracie…she struggled to stand up…said, ‘Sit down.’ The girl said, ‘No, no, you sit,’ but Gracie said, ‘No, you sit down. You just played.’ And so she didn’t use her struggles as an excuse.”
Joyce has played many positions since her mother, Alicia, found a home for her with the Sharks when she was an 8-year-old girl skirmishing to find a team that would accept her and her condition. But it was on Aug. 15 when Joyce experienced the biggest moment of her soccer playing career.
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