We’ve been blessed to know and be inspired by so many individuals, young and old, during our 13 year history running programs in Lawrence. The following individuals, although no longer with us, in body, are with us in mind and spirit. They left indelible marks on our hearts that won’t be forgotten and their legacies live on in our programs and participants in important and meaningful ways.
In Memory of Raiza Valdez
Merrimack Volleyball, led by the Valdez family, is joining the Beyond Soccer family where resources will be shared and opportunities expanded. Mom, Raiza, has been the inspiration behind her family’s unwavering commitment to young people through the sport of volleyball, including daughter, Lismari’s, adventure and resultant excellence at Haverhill High. Raiza has also been the force behind the growth of the sport at Lawrence High School where the girls program is coached by her older daughter, Leti, and husband, Marino Valdez, as well as the launch and development of important community nonprofit, Merrimack Volley. Even while battling illness, Raiza continued to pour her heart and soul into the growth and development of her beloved sport of volleyball and most importantly, her beloved family. That devotion has subsequently guided, supported and inspired so many families who will never forget their beloved Raiza.
In Memory of Emerson Ortega Rivera
Emerson came to us from Guatemala in the early days of Beyond Soccer. He arrived blessed with both soccer ability and artistic skill but could only communicate in his native language. As soccer operates on a universal language, he jumped in and his impact on the field was immediate. He learned English as quickly as he won our hearts. Emerson had great skill and speed and became a top player, but his real strength came through in his kind and soft spoken manner. Emerson was a joy to coach and a joy to know. A fond memory of ours was his artist’s help in building our Beyond Soccer float in the St. Patrick’s Day parade where he created the large centerpiece poster of a leprechaun that still adorns our office walls. We remember fondly his long hours and “wanting to get it perfect” in his project. We lost our dear Emerson in a car accident almost one year ago.
Scholarship in Memory of Joseph Garcia
Joseph just loved playing soccer. His joy which he both gave to and received from this beautiful game, was so evident in his infectious grin as he ran back and forth on the soccer fields. He loved his “Storm” teammates, including his brother, Jaiden, and loved his coach. We were all blessed to know this beautiful, strong, charismatic, silly, soccer loving “JoJo,” as he was so fondly nick-named. A few weeks before he joined the “angels” Joseph played a particularly good game on the last day of the season. His multiple defensive plays and his encouragement to his teammates was noticed by Coach Will who awarded him the team MVP of the week. JoJo was absolutely thrilled.