For Lisa Wrightsman, the captain of the Volunteers of America (VOA) street soccer team depicted on the right in the photo, it was the sport that turned her life around, rendering to her spirit a meaning and purpose she never expected. The former semi-pro athlete from Sacramento State fell into the destructive whirl of drugs, alcohol, homelessness and jail and now uses soccer to help others in trouble.
Last year, she had the courage to enter a recovery program sponsored by the Volunteers of America and there she found the street soccer program that would so drastically alter the course of her life. She not only traveled to Washington, DC, to play in a national tournament with VOA’s men’s team, the Mohawks, she was also named their most valuable player.
Lisa went to Brazil to represent the United States, and when she returned, she spilled over with self-confidence and got full time work at TechSkills. Driven by her innovative plan to send a woman’s Mohawks homeless soccer team to the national tournament this summer, she became a force to reckon with. The idea soon took on a momentum all its own, much bigger than just Lisa and her dream to help others get a second chance.
The women’s team has been a boon to the various recovery programs offered by VOA. One unexpected result has been the reconnection of many of these women team members with their children. Also, bonds of trust have been established between team members where before there was conflict, mistrust and competition. Men, too, have learned positive communication and family skills from the street soccer program.
It is always amazing what one human can accomplish with the proper mindset.
Go, Lisa. Go, go, go!!!