Soccer clinic for amputees builds confidence, camaraderie for - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Soccer clinic for amputees builds confidence, camaraderie for kids

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

They're all here because they lost something -- some from accidents, some from ailments. They share a unique, but tragic bond, but it doesn't get in the way on the soccer field.

It's a group of kids who are all amputees.

Tyoma Frick is just 5 years old and has never experienced life with both feet.

"He's just an amazing kid who believes he can do anything," said Tyoma's mother, Kristen Frick.

That made First Kick, an amputee soccer clinic, a natural fit.

"To hear about it doesn't do it justice," said Eric Westover, one of the men in charge of the clinic. "You have to see it played to really understand it."

It's basically regular soccer, except for the arm crutches and goalies who're only allowed to use one arm.

"Ironically, if I were to use my short arm to block a shot, they'd call it a handball," said Westover.

Westover was a hockey goalie before a work-related injury cost him his right hand.

"I lost my business, lost my home, had to sell everything I owned and had to move in with my parents," said Westover.

"When I lost my arm, I thought my life was really over. It wasn't. It was really just beginning."

Two ears later, Westover was recruited by the national amputee soccer team as a keeper. Now he's running clinics, helping others dealing with limb loss navigate new lives while starting regional teams of their own.

"It's just as fast, it's just as competitive, it's just as rough and tumble," said Westover.

Kristen Frick got a kick out of just seeing her son mix it up.

"I can't believe I didn't know about this sport before today," said Kristen.

This was his first time meeting other amputees.

"He'll take 2 minutes, rest, then say, 'I wanna go play!' He said, 'I really love this, I'm really happy.' Those are really comforting words to a mom," said Kristen.

It's comforting, but also enlightening for Westover as well.

"You can see just how quickly they get competitive, but at the same time they're having a lot of fun, especially the kids," said Westover. "You see them come in and see how shy and tentative they are, and now to see they're all friends and outgoing. That's the payoff for me."

Tyoma may not know what life was like before limb loss, but now he knows life after won't be short of opportunity.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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