Stephanie Lopez Cox

Former soccer winner finds new ways to impact her community after graduation

by Stephanie Lopez Cox November 15, 2010 in Women's Soccer

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The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is a portrait of a well-rounded student-athlete, who is not only successful on the field and in the classroom, but demonstrates compassion and service in their community.  After winning this award my senior year at the University of Portland, I realized that the four pillars of the award - Community, Classroom, Character and Competition - were something I should strive to pursue in my professional and personal life.  Though, these areas weren’t so easily defined for me now.  I didn’t have classes that aided me in my academic growth with the Classroom pillar or have a college community where I could join in different programs with my friends to help others with the Community pillar.  Being a professional athlete, my main focus was to give my absolute best during my training and after that I had to figure out how those attributes would be enabled in me.  To take my own initiative in these other areas helped me to discover and define who I wanted to be as an adult, and more specifically figure out how my passions and interests could translate to my involvement in the community. 

To find my direction of where to serve I looked back on my childhood and the strong impressions that were made while I was young.  I grew up in a Christian home, and one way my parents chose to live out their faith was by opening our home to foster children.  By seeing the need of my foster siblings, I always knew that I wanted to help out kids. I had to figure out how I could impact kids through soccer and with my game schedule. I heard about an opportunity through one of my teammates on the national team to work with an afterschool program called Scores.  The program uses soccer and poetry throughout the week to keep kids learning, active and out of trouble.  In Los Angeles I got some of my teammates to come and we had such a great time with the kids, teaching them skills, but mostly just laughing and running around with them.  In Boston I took the “T”, the subway, out to a field for their “game day.”  It was a different experience for me to be on the sideline and not out there playing, but it was special to cheer them on and see their pure love of the game.  Everything came full circle when the students had a chance to cheer us on when I was able to get some of the kids tickets to one of our games. They were so excited and proud to be there cheering for and supporting us, not just because we were pro athletes but because we were their friends.

My favorite experience so far has been my brief but personal interaction with some foster kids through an organization in Tacoma called Youth for Christ.  I had this great idea to use my relationship with Nike and take the kids on a shopping trip to Nike Town in Seattle using my merchandise allotment.  So for the past two years I have taken five teenagers who live in foster homes to the big city for some fun.  It is so cool to see the transformation of these kids over the course of the night.  At first they are very hesitant in the store, but once they find something they love, they start to light up.  It is so much fun walking from kid to kid trying to find that special item.  Last year, one of the boys had headphones on and didn’t really say anything at first.  And then after we had checked out, he had his new kicks on and was dancing in the lobby making everyone laugh. Over and over I see that the ability to give is itself a gift, because you have the blessing of impacting others. Hopefully the pillars of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award will continue to inspire the direction in my life.  Right now soccer, Scores, and Nike provide me with a way to impact kids and serve in my community.  But who knows how my faith and passion will be expressed in a couple of years; maybe I will even be a foster parent like my own parents.