Jyniah Desameau’s participation in Coastal Outreach Soccer has given her more than skills on the soccer pitch. She’s also been given a support group that pushes her to be her best.
The Glynn Middle School student poured these sentiments into an essay submitted to a national contest this year. And over the summer, Desameau, 13, learned that out of several thousand essay entries, her submission was named a first place winner.
“I was surprised,” she said. “I was happy … I didn’t know how big it was or how serious it was.”
The essay contest is sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King to create leaders and ensure all girls have access to sports.
The contest was open to middle school girls involved in sports programs. The essay question asked: “What inspires you to keep playing?”
Desameau wrote eloquently in her essay and clearly expressed her strong feelings for the COS program.
“Many people think when you’re playing a sport, you just show up to practice, play other teams and go home, but not at COS,” she wrote. “The bond at soccer is like family. …It’s easy to be able to build relationships and to be able to comfortably tell what’s on your mind. I trust all my coaches and can rely on them.”
Last year, when her mother died unexpectedly, Desameau found comfort in her family away from home at Coastal Outreach Soccer.
“I don’t really think about it because they keep me occupied,” she said.
Desameau is one of three national essay winners who will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City next month to attend the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Salute to Women in Sports” gala.
“We didn’t know that this talent was there, her ability to write and be able to communicate in that way, to be able to express some things that she felt about the program,” said Shawn Williams, executive director of Coastal Outreach Soccer. “I think that was the thing that really touched us, not only myself but the other coaches that are here, just reading what she had wrote about how this program has made an impact in her life and how she sees it as a very important piece of her life as well.”
The event in New York will feature a red carpet walk, and Desameau will have a chance to meet some of the most well-known women in sports, including Billie Jean King.
“This event is attended by a lot of prominent women athletes,” Williams said. “… We’re looking forward to just that exposure, for her to see those role models.”
In her essay, Desameau wrote that there are three inspirations that keep her playing — her teammates, her improved academics and her respect for Williams, her coach.
“He showed me hard work pays off,” she said. “… And it pushes me to work harder, because I want to be successful like him.”
Spotlight on Schools appears Thursdays. Contact Lauren McDonald at email@example.com or at 912-265-8320, ext. 322 to suggest a topic for a column.