MSOC | New Signee an Inspiration for All
Quentin "Squishy" Rios signed his Letter of Intent Wednesday morning and is now an official member of the Saint Mary's men's soccer team.
MORAGA, Calif. -- "Rios, Rios, Rios!" The chant can be heard loud and clear outside the hallway from the Saint Mary's men's soccer locker room as the squad was with their newest teammate.
Donning a red Saint Mary's jersey with the number 87 in front of his very own locker with his last name and number on a name plate, Under Armour gear and a soccer ball, the newest teammate is quite unique from what people would imagine as a traditional soccer recruit.
Meet Quentin "Squishy" Rios. A courageous seven year old hailing from Oakley, Calif. and now the newest member of the Gaels. His number 87 is not a random number, but rather a symbol of his major accomplishment of overcoming 87 straight weeks of chemotherapy.
"We have had some incredible young men and families come through this program," said head coach Adam Cooper during the introductory press conference. "I'm excited to welcome our newest member and his family, Quentin Rios."
Rios has battled Juvenile Pilocitic Astrocytomas Brain Tumor since 2013. On April 4, 2018, Rios officially became a member of the men's soccer team after signing his Letter of Intent.
"Today went great," said Quentin. "I had a lot of fun and I am glad I am on the team. I'm really excited to be a part of the team and make great friends."
The Saint Mary's athletic program hosted a press conference Wednesday morning for the seven year old Gael who was accompanied by his mother at the table.
"Prior to his third birthday, Quentin was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and just a couple weeks later underwent surgery where they were not able to remove any of it," stated Quentin's mother Mary Rios. "Being a part of a team is something a lot of us take for granted. When you are four or five years old, you sign up for your first Tee Ball team or dance team class. Quentin didn't get that opportunity."
Instead, Quentin and his family had to fight a long battle. His first round of chemotherapy went 87 straight weeks before he could go back and enjoy a life filled with school and making friendships. Adversity struck again though, as the tumor grew back and caused a second round of chemo that stretched 60 consecutive weeks.
"He missed over 50 days of school during his first two years of school due to doctor visits or chemo," said Mary Rios. Despite the uphill battle, Quentin and the Rios family continued to have faith that all will work out.
"Even during the worst days where he would feel horrible, Quentin would never feel down and I can gain strength from him," explained Mary. "He would give me a big hug and always tell me, "it is ok, Mom. We are going to get through this." We are in a good place now. It has been over a year of stability and now he is given an opportunity to be a part of a team, and quite a team."
A national nonprofit from Boston, Team IMPACT contacted Saint Mary's and the forever lasting relationship began between the men's soccer program and the Rios family.
"Several weeks ago, a few of the players and I drove out to Quentin's house and we were greeted with such warm smiles and enthusiasm," said Cooper. "Mary and I stepped away and spoke for just two minutes, and during those two minutes our guys and Quentin were having this big nerf gun fight and we were just hanging out."
This would not be the first time Cooper and the men's soccer program has seen a remarkable story so close to the program. Go back in 2011, where the team made a magical run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Championships. About a month after the postseason run, Emmanuel "Morro" Sarabia (2008-14) was diagnosed with leukemia.
"Morro" would battle the rare cancer and eventually make his return to the pitch on Sept. 12, 2014 after a three year fight with the condition. To show his support to Quentin and his family, and the men's soccer program, he attended the press conference and spoke with both Cooper and his new recruit.
"This whole time we saw this vibrant and enthusiastic kid who acts like he is an ordinary seven year old, and it makes you think for us, an injury or school is hard to deal with, but Quentin is the epitome of charisma," continued Cooper. "This is what strength, perseverance and courage looks like. Myself and the guys are very excited to learn a lot from Quentin and his family."
As an official team member, Quentin will attend Gaels practices, games, team dinners, events and more surrounding the program.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, MA that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom.
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