The young girl sat upright in the hospital bed her amicable parents sitting nearby. Her hands were a blur as she swiftly twirled the yarn around her fingers in a well-practiced motion. She was making yarn bracelets and the manual machine was humming. The Albuquerque Sol players crowded into her room were quiet, not wanting to interrupt the process.
Albuquerque Sol President Ron Patel had just placed an order for at least 18 of them so the Sol players could wear them pregame and for the team picture before its final two home matches.
The Sol front office and multiple players were on its annual visit to the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital. It’s part of the Sol’s commitment to serving the Albuquerque community.
“The Sol is resolute in its dedication to serving Albuquerque and elevating the community through soccer and other good works,” Sol President Ron Patel said. “We don’t measure our impact through winning percentage. Our unshakeable bond to Albuquerque and community outreach extends far beyond the contours of a soccer field.”
The team first toured the play area of the hospital learning about the hospital operation and the children there. A few Sol players couldn’t resist testing the xylophones and other toys to make sure they were in working condition. They were.
The hallway leading to one area of patient rooms was illuminated by different art projects from the patients themselves. The squad split up roving the hallways under the guidance of UNMH staff dropping in on the young patients. Some kids were understandably a little overwhelmed by the new faces. Others proudly showed their video games and freely talked about their interests.
Following individual visits the players joined some patients in a central play area. Englishman Seb Gray played some basketball for the first time apparently, while Dylan Nino practiced his lego skills. Yuri Domiciano was humbled on the checkerboard and Tyler Pavlett’s goalkeeping skills were required to defend families not engaged in the soccer and basketball play.
“The Sol wants to develop soccer players and help launch professional careers,” Sol General Manager Larry Espinoza said. “But personal development and maturity is a far more enduring lesson the hopefully serves these young men well far beyond their soccer journey.”
Hospital stays can be a disquieting combination of frightening and tedious for families. The Albuquerque Sol were there to add, well, a little sunshine. The Sol might have even picked up a few fans. A couple families hastily scribbled down upcoming match details on room whiteboards. But that’s not what the visit was about. Turning a few worried frowns into creeping smiles meant job done.
The Albuquerque Sol would like to extend its profound thanks to the UNMH staff, patients, and families for their hospitality.