Naperville 'Big Ball' soccer tourney to fight spinal muscular disease
Event organizers for the first Big Ball Soccer Tournament in Naperville are practicing their soccer puns, if not so much their soccer skills, in advance of a new event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27.
"Things are literally rolling along right now," said Sue Miranda, one of the event coordinators. "People just take a ball and run with it. It's been awesome."
The tournament will benefit Kyra's Idea Angie's Hope, a collection of Naperville neighbors who have been raising money to find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy since 2006.
Naperville 15-year-old Angie Lee has the disease, which progressively weakens the nerves in the spinal cord and steals muscle strength throughout the body. One of her friends, 15-year-old Kyra Scadden, has helped organize yearly fundraisers to support the fight against Angie's disease.
The girls both remember a time when Kyra began to wonder why Angie couldn't play park district soccer and always was on the sidelines cheering instead.
"The beginning of this was Kyra wanted Angie to play soccer with her," Kyra's mother, Kris Scadden, said about the origins of the annual fundraisers, which have raised more than $110,000 total.
There's no other way to say it: The balls to be used in this soccer tournament are big -- 40 inches big.
"Everyone can play, including people in wheelchairs," Angie said. "We discovered the big ball because in middle school during gym class, I would play with it during the soccer unit."
More than 150 people are expected to play soccer in 20-minute games during the tournament, which already has filled to capacity with participants. Trying to get some air under the giant soccer balls might be just as much fun as trying to get them into the goals.
"They are so fun and kind of crazy," Scadden said about the giant soccer balls, which will be made from 40-inch exercise balls covered with a cloth exterior with a soccer-ball pattern. "Being on a traveling soccer team is not helping you with this. It's going to be a level playing field whether you've played soccer or not."
Angie's All Stars will play against Kyra's Kickers in what Kyra described as "a friendly rivalry." All teams are guaranteed two games and cheerleaders from Metea Valley High School will be on hand to provide encouragement.
Spectators are encouraged to attend the tournament, which will double as a family-friendly festival. Scadden said there will be a DJ, a photo booth, a silent auction, a bean bag toss, a coloring contest "that even the teens enjoy," crafts, and refreshments for sale. Admission is $5.
When the Kyra's Idea Angie's Hope fundraisers first started, Angie admits the girls' parents did a lot of the work. But she says each year, she and her friends have taken on more responsibilities, such as securing donations of silent auction items and getting business sponsorships. The friends also worked together on a promotional video for this year's event, which aims to raise $30,000 -- the largest single-year goal yet.
"All my friends and I collaborate using our different talents to make this huge production," Angie said.
They're expecting a fun atmosphere and some serious, yet seriously silly, competition.
"It was pretty exhausting just playing for a couple minutes" with the giant ball, Angie said. "I think it'll be pretty good exercise and a lot of fun, too."
If you goWhat: Big Ball Soccer Tournament
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27
Where: Players Indoor Sports, 1740 Quincy Ave., Naperville
Who: Benefits Kyra's Idea Angie's Hope, which raises money for research to cure Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Cost: $5 for spectator admission