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EDP Foundation Announces 2023 Academic Scholarship Winners




The EDP Foundation, supported by EDP Soccer, will provide each of the 2023 winning students with $2,500 in financial assistance for post-high school education through its annual academic scholarship program. Since 2019, the EDP Foundation has helped students pay their educational expenses at various accredited colleges, universities, trade, or technical schools across the country.

Leading the charge as the EDP Foundation Board Chair, Peter Gooding acknowledged, “As the scholarship program has grown in recognition over the years, it has become increasingly hard to choose the top candidates. EDP clubs are beginning to help us promote the opportunity internally, and we are truly seeing their best and brightest apply. It is making our scholarship committee's job very challenging, but also very rewarding. I personally thank them for their expertise and dedication in supporting our efforts.”


Gooding continued, “In addition to impressive academic merit, these players all share common goals: to continue their love of soccer, and use their knowledge to create a better future, not only for themselves, but for their communities and the world around them.”


Financial and social hardships, bullying, physical injuries, mental health struggles, and personal tragedies—all of the student-athletes who made up this year’s class of applicants have overcome much adversity. With the support of their parents, coaches, teammates, and club communities, they’ve fielded bright futures and leaned on the training and character they built through soccer.


The EDP Foundation Board of Directors would like to thank all of the 2023 applicants and wish them enduring success as they embark on the next stage of their educational journeys in the Fall. We are proud to introduce this year’s academic scholarship recipients below. We’ve selected clips from their scholarship essays to provide a glimpse into how their club and high school soccer careers have shaped their personality, ethics, and virtue. Learn from their stories as told in their own words..


 

Henry John Field
Henry John Field
  • Player at White Plains Youth Soccer - White Plains Academy National 2004/2005

  • Student at Rye High School: Rye, NY

  • Attending The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore, MD

“Looking back, soccer might’ve been the best thing that ever happened to me … because it taught me lessons that could’ve taken me a lifetime to learn.”


“… when quarantine hit, … I practiced by myself for three hours a day, for five to six days a week, and I spent the remaining time studying music. …, I was much better at soccer, technically, but it wasn’t carrying over to my games. Meanwhile, I was winning awards in music with comparatively little effort. After two ten-week breaks (due to concussions) …, it seemed like music would be the way to go ... But I kept fighting.”


“I expected to make (the team) my freshmen year but didn’t. … my junior year Varsity season, I was the closest to quitting soccer then I’d ever been. …Coach put me in late in the second half at 0-0, and …I scored the game winner with 13 minutes left. “


“…first in goals scored for the team and second in most assists. … playing full games …people were finally respecting me. … I was elected as captain by my team mates.“


“Right when it seemed most tempting to quit is when all the hard work paid off. … Now, as I approach college with the mindset to become the greatest film scorer of all time, I will remember that whenever it seems like times are too tough to handle, … I’ll keep going and have faith that there is a hit record around the corner.”



Matthew Wich
  • Player at U19 NAC Inter Connecticut FC

  • Student at Trumbull High School: Trumbull, CT

  • Attending University of Notre Dame: Notre Dame, IN

“…As an underdog, determination coupled with a fighting spirit have proved tools for success both on and off the field.”


“Unfortunately, my family was unable to sign me up for competitive soccer until eighth grade. I was worried about …play(ing) competitive soccer knowing I started so late.”


“When I first tried out for premier, I woke quickly …Through countless hours doing L-turns, V-taps, and cone weaves in my driveway and on the field, I began to rise against the original odds…”


“After learning about socio-economic problems plaguing developing nations, I created my non-profit organization ‘Ceramics for Soccer.’ I fight for better opportunities for impoverished children in the Dominican Republic by using ceramics as a fundraising tool and soccer as an educational one.”


“I coached soccer for children with disabilities, fighting for an inclusive environment for all. As a volunteer referee, I fought for the ability for all to have a safe time playing soccer…”


“From my soccer career, I will use the determination and fighting spirit I have built on the field to progress our society. I can research the intricacies lying at the core of socio-economic issues plaguing underdeveloped nations and create initiatives to quell developmental problems. …broadening my horizons so that I can fight, as I do on the soccer field, for others as a force for good in society.”


"I will continue to take the determination and strength from my soccer career and use it to help others.”



Tyler Wojnar
  • Player at Cherry Hill FC Premier Attack 05

  • Student at Holy Cross Preparatory Academy High School: Delran, NJ

  • Attending St. Joseph's University: Philadelphia, PA

“Growing up, I have tackled many sports, but soccer has always held a special place in my heart, being the only constant in my life."


"However, at the start of my Spring soccer season of my junior year …, this all changed. …I got kicked in the ankle, and, with my leg twisting …, I heard that knee pop that no athlete ever wishes to hear. …’Let me cut to the chase; you’ve torn your ACL.’ This was the most devastating and unexpected news I have ever received, and my eyes filled with tears. …I promised myself to ignore the negatives and use them as motivation to persist.”


“Following surgery, …Despite working extremely hard, I felt discouraged and uncertain if I was ever going to fully recover and play soccer again, …After noticing drastic improvements physically and mentally, through the constant encouragement and positive attitude from my physical therapist and high school soccer coach, Matt, I could see the light at the end of this dark tunnel…”


“… I had a revelation: I want to be just like Coach Matt, a physical therapist who helps others who are facing a bump in their journey of life. His ability to keep me motivated was what I found inspiring and that encouraged me to pursue a career in physical therapy, …ultimately, if it weren’t for my ACL soccer injury, I would not be the person I am today, nor know what I want to do for the rest of my life!”



Erin Zirkle
  • Player at FC Frederick 05 Girls

  • Student at South Carroll High School: Sykesville, MD

  • Attending University of Maryland, College Park: College Park, MD

“I’ve gained so much from (my) years of playing; time management and teamwork skills, life-long friendships, and a way to relieve stress."


"My relationship to the sport has evolved as I’ve gotten older …(it) has taught me about community and mentorship more than any other part of my life.”


“In eighth grade, I signed up to be a soccer referee just to make some extra money. …Being one of the few female referees in the area, younger players would start to recognize me, specifically as “the girl referee” …being a positive role model in young players’ lives inspired me to volunteer my time as a youth soccer coach and camp counselor with my club.”


“I realized that some players in my area were lacking equipment, they didn’t have a pair of cleats, athletic clothes, or a soccer ball. …I decided to start a soccer equipment and uniform drive. …I sent the hundreds of collected pieces to several organizations …, including Passback (USSF), Leveling the Playing Field (A Maryland Organization), and Golden Mile Soccer (FC Frederick). These extremely impactful experiences taught me the importance of helping the next person in line.”


“I have been a STEM tutor to mentor younger students, acted as a junior referee mentor, and became a volunteer for my high school’s athletic department. …It’s given me the faith that with a community behind me, I have the capacity to make an impact.”



Alexandra Gibson
  • Player at Elizabeth Youth Soccer - EYS Dels National '05

  • Student at South Plainfield High School: South Plainfield, NJ

  • Attending Bryn Mawr College: Bryn Mawr, PA

“Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes over six years ago was a life-changing moment. …my life centered around soccer,..."


"As a young athlete, I felt invincible, although overwhelmingly terrified. I understood that I had to work to erase the fallacies of being an athlete with diabetes.”


“…for the past four years, I competed in the Soccer for A Cause Charity Festival, benefiting the Marisa Tufaro Foundation and Go4TheGoal.”


“Every day I strive to do better than before. My time is divided between academics, soccer, and community service. …While organizing food drives, warm meal distributions, and holiday grocery dispersals …, I have gained immeasurable leadership experience.”


“One of my proudest moments was persuading our mayor and wellness board to fund senior citizen care packages throughout (COVID-19) lockdown. …As part of the South Plainfield High School Senior Research Project DOSOMETHING.org, I help domestic violence survivors. …with the Elizabeth Education Association, The Hispanic Law Enforcement Association of Union County, and the Elizabeth High School Key Club, I collected, organized, and distributed 25 boxes of personal necessities to the YWCA of Union County and the organization PROCEED.”


“…education is crucial in the current and future battle against diabetes, …I vowed to increase awareness and promote philanthropic initiatives with charitable events.”


“Although I will never overcome diabetes, I am satisfied that I am crushing the statistics and ready for new challenges.”



Lauren Roussel
  • Player at Seacoast United Soccer Club - SUSC Girls 05

  • Student at Freeport High School: Freeport, ME

  • Attending Brown University: Providence, RI

“Scared defense is bad defense. …one bad touch, one sloppy tackle, and it is over. …constantly battling anxiety, goalkeeper was probably the worst position I could've picked.”


“One time, I just backed up toward the goal line, …as the striker approached. That moment could be a metaphor for my life …I backed away from challenges I could conquer because I was scared of failing.”


“(It) allowed me to plainly see the consequences of my anxiety. I saw my teammates suffering because I couldn’t get my job done. …losing bothered me, but my teammates losing because of me bothered me more.”


“So, …I went to goalie boot-camp. …The drills were intense and far above my ability level, but I took notes on every single one and practiced them …I had turf-burns up and down my entire body; …but, for some reason, I loved it. I’ve never felt more at home …My confidence soared.”


“I was a new player. …a more confident person. That really taught me the value of hard work …In school, I would raise my hand in class, even if I wasn’t sure I had the answer. …confidence to make mistakes was what I needed to learn.”


“I started standing up for myself …I found amazing friends, pursued new interests, …Soccer gave me the confidence to live my life the way I wanted …I am forever grateful.“


 
Peter Gooding, EDP Foundation Board of Directors’ Chair, discussed the success of this EDP Foundation initiative:

“The quality of the applicants contending for this year’s scholarships was very impressive and we labored over the responsibility to review every detail of each application to choose the very best. The Scholarship Committee and I were once again incredibly humbled by our youth players' sportsmanship; their heart and how they have given back to the greater communities around them." said Gooding.


He added, "The EDP Foundation tracks how this inspirational program has grown. This year we received applications from an ever-expanding geography. Submissions arrived from 17 state soccer associations and provinces: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY-E, NY-W, Ontario, PA-E, RI, VA, VT, and WV.”


Gooding emphasized that the Foundation's primary endeavor is "…to encourage youth soccer players to aspire to achieve their life goals and further their education after high school. By continuing on to graduate with a secondary degree from college, a trade school, or other accredited institution, they will have an invaluable jump toward succeeding on a professional and personal level."


The ideal partners for the EDP Foundation are college soccer coaches and the staff at youth soccer clubs themselves. The non-profit organization offer numerous opportunities to bridge the gap by bringing clubs, coaches, and soccer educators together to create unique soccer experiences that assist players, and their parents, in formulating a plan to increase their potential.


Gooding explained, "The EDP Foundation aligns incredibly well with existing club recruiting efforts. Working together to explain the available options and the realities associated with playing sports in college reinforces the importance of academics and striving for excellence outside of soccer. If our Foundation staff and club counterparts can partner to inform student-athletes on the value of pursuing an educational path after high school, then that is the perfect scenario we’re looking to nurture.”


Gooding concluded, “We are grateful for the continued success of this project. On behalf of the EDP Foundation, I wish the 2023 scholarship recipients, and all EDP Soccer’s youth players, the best of luck as they pursue their athletic and academic goals.”

To learn more about EDP Foundation Scholarships and other EDP Pathway to College™ programs, visit edpfoundation.org/scholarships.


 

About EDP Soccer and the EDP Foundation:

Elite Development Program Soccer, or EDP Soccer, manages youth soccer leagues and tournaments across the entire East Region alongside US Youth Soccer. The EDP Foundation is a non-profit organization, which strives to positively impact and enhance the development of the youth soccer community by connecting players with opportunities to further their academic careers. The organization creates scholarship opportunities that support bright, passionate, and ambitious students who are seeking to improve the world in their own way.

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