Kyle Kauffman does not let his cerebral palsy get in the way of his life. He boasts a high school diploma and now, a dorm room at Stevenson University in Maryland. However, despite his optimistic attitude, there are still some things he has not been able to do until now – including playing soccer for his college team.
That recently changed. Describing the game as “the most beautiful sport there is,” 21-year-old Kauffman represented his college when they honored the manager of their team – the Division III Mustangs. According to Bradley Davis, team defender, Kauffman truly earned this right since he has been working hard for the team in other capacities and is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject of soccer. The fact that he wore No. 1 on his shirt when he went out onto the field was also perfectly fitting as Davis said “he’s No. 1 in my heart.” Kauffman has been doing a ton of work for the team for the last four years, including laundry, ball inflating, and more; jobs he never complains about. Naturally, Kauffman was very excited to go onto the field through the Mustangs’ tunnel’s swirling smoke and booming music. He didn’t care if he scored or not; he just wanted to play, to be out there, be one of the guys. And the fact that everyone supported him attaining his dream, meant a lot to him.
According to Coach John Plevyak, Kauffman worked incredibly hard to get ready for this one game. No-one sees him as “disabled.” As he explained, “I was born this way for some reason. I don’t know what it is yet, but you’ve got to take what you’re given and run with it. Am I angry that I’m stuck with (cerebral palsy)? No. But when I see kids who waste the soccer talent they have, I do get mad at them. I won’t say so, but I’ll think it.”
At the end of the game, Kyle was “walking around on cloud nine,” which wasn’t surprising since the Division III Mustangs won 3-1. But it wasn’t just about winning – for him it was about being there, partaking in his dream sport. Kauffman is a true inspiration to others – whether disabled or not – to enjoy life as much as possible. The players said they won’t forget him. But senior midfielder Ryan Pierce said, “his parents told us they were glad that we had taken him in, but really, it was Kyle who took us in.”