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Nine-year-old soccer player goes the extra mile

By Adam Kenyon

Brison Ricker and Father, Brian, take a break from training to show their CASSA pride at Skinner Field.

Brison Ricker and Father, Brian, take a break from training to show their CASSA pride at Skinner Field.

While many school boys are playing with action figures or glued to video games in their spare time, nine-year-old Brison Ricker has been gearing up for something a bit more challenging. This 3rd grader from Beach Elementary School is training to complete the upcoming 33rd annual Fifth Third River Bank Run 10K with his father, Brian.

Several months ago, Brian and his wife, Kim, noticed that Brison enjoyed running on the treadmill, sometimes to the point of becoming restless if not allowed to do so. On a recent treadmill jog, he went six miles, so they asked Brison about the idea of running the River Bank Run on May 8. He readily agreed.

Brison is athletic by nature and participates in several types of sports and events. He took 2nd place in the Rockford Area Kid’s Triathlon last July, his second year in the competition, and plans to participate again this summer. He also enjoys basketball, football and his dirt bike. However, he is quick to tell you that his favorite sport is soccer.

“I like playing soccer. It’s my passion,” says Brison, who has had tremendous success as both a field player and goalie for the under-10 boy’s team of Cedar Area Select Soccer Association, the CASSA Tri-Hawks.

Brison, typically a boy of few words, becomes animated as he describes, with a gleam in his eye, one of his most memorable goals last fall. “The goalie came up. I faked him out and I went to kick with my left foot and I made it.”

In fact, Brison is currently pounding the pavement not only to train for the 6.2-mile race, but also raising funds for CASSA. The girls and boys travel club has expanded significantly over recent years causing a need to acquire land for practice fields. Brison has stepped up to the plate to help out, already having raised a much-needed contribution in pledges for the club.

Brian, who also coaches Brison’s team, has become a huge believer in CASSA. The group’s philosophy involves athleticism, teamwork and instilling character in the kids, but above all, the goal is to make the experience positive and fun for everybody. “I like coaching a lot more than I thought I would, even more than I enjoyed playing sports. It’s watching kids grow and get better, teaching kids and being able to be there with my son. The reward you get is just unbelievable,” said Ricker.

Brian is bolstering Brison by running the River Bank with him, a method of support that he also employs as a CASSA coach. At a typical Tri-Hawks practice, Brian leads by example, often working out alongside the team while coaching. Whether it’s warm-ups, conditioning drills, sprints, practice drills or scrimmages, Brian is doing the physical work with the boys, which gives them that extra boost of team-morale and support during the exhausting moments of practice. Plus, a little fun competition with one of the dads never hurts to motivate the players during practice.

The Rickers are looking forward to the River Bank Run, the remainder of the spring CASSA season and the fall tryouts that take place in mid-June. If you would like to root Brison on in his outstanding accomplishments by pledging or becoming involved with CASSA go to:  www.cassasoccer.com. Way to go, Brison!

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