By Weston Shumway
Photos by Kurt Johnson
While the season finished up the state tournament, the Brighton High girls soccer team wrapped up its season with a focus on something a little bigger than the 5A championship. This season, the Bengals participated in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which spreads awareness about issues affecting families of fallen soldiers.
“Nearly all of our families are trauma survivors,” TAPS says on its website. “They all thought their loved one would return home from a military assignment. Instead, their worst nightmare came true.”
Each Brighton varsity player dedicated the season to a local fallen soldier. The team sent weekly emails to families, visited the Veterans Home and made care packages.
“(I hope) The girls will gain a greater appreciation for our freedoms and recognize that they come at a price,” said head coach Mark Stoker said in an email.
Kori Goller, one of the four captains, said that each varsity player wore the name of her soldier on her sleeve. The team “played for them throughout the season.”
Senior Madi Jepperson said supporting TAPS motivated the team.
“If we were losing or anything, we had their names on our jerseys and it was good to look at it and just know what you’re playing for and who you are dedicating it to,” Jepperson said.
The seniors said that their season was difficult in the start, but after they got going, everything was uphill from there.
“I think, especially this year, we kind of had to learn to not focus on the mistakes we made in the past and to keep pressing forward,” goalkeeper AJ Parker said.
One of the ways the girls bonded was during a trip to Camp Williams, the National Guard training center in Bluffdale. In groups, the girls tried to solve a series of challenges, such as climbing over walls and crossing a pool of water with limited assistance.
Although the team activity was not connected to the TAPS program, Gleeson said it all ties together because the soldiers they are honoring “probably went through similar trainings like that.”
The girls also visited the Camp Williams cemetery to honor the soldiers buried there. Many teared up as they read the quotes and plaques.
On Oct. 11, Brighton lost to Layton, 1-0, in the first round of the playoffs. Even though the season is over, the team will carry on the ethics and traits that it learned this season. Through this project, Gleeson said, “We learned that your own actions aren’t your own…you represent a bigger group…you’re representing something more important.”
Brighton High sophomore Weston Shumway wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year. Shumway is on the football, wrestling and rugby teams at Brighton.