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Paul VI senior Patrick Casey is an ambassador for soccer, Catholic education

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For Patrick Casey, a senior at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, there’s nothing like the rush after a hard-fought victory on the soccer field. He’s played on teams since he was 4 years old, coached youth players with disabilities and competed on both the Paul VI and traveling teams.   

So it hit Casey that much harder when he was injured during a club practice his junior year of high school and had to give up playing competitively.  

“My foot hit a divet and my knee just kind of buckled, and that was that,” Casey said.

His attention turned to coaching a recreational soccer team for teens near his home in Nokesville. Though Casey had already volunteered for several years with TOPSoccer, a program for children with disabilities, coaching players his own age was a whole different ball game.

“You try to be confident and helpful without being condescending because you’re 18 years old,” said Casey, who plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall. “You don’t want to be lectured by another 18-year-old.”

Coaching gave Casey an outlet to enjoy the sport in a different way, just playing for fun or demonstrating moves to players during practices. 

“I can hop in and play if I want to and do what I can to make them love the sport as much as I do. It’s hard to communicate the cliché of not knowing what you have until it’s gone,” Casey said. “So I try to make them appreciate it.”

His enthusiasm for the sport received national attention in January, when U.S. Youth Soccer selected Casey as its 2016 “TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year,” citing his work at summer camps and promoting the program during community events.

Casey also has found a concrete way to share his appreciation for Paul VI, by serving as president of the Student Ambassadors. Some of his duties include showing eighth-grade students around the school and giving talks to potential families. He says that his Benedictine education at Linton Hall School in Bristow, followed by Paul VI, laid the foundation for much more than a 4.1 GPA.

“The faith aspect has definitely changed my life a whole lot,” he said.  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017