Tournament helps kick cancer to the curb

Four high school soccer players will run a soccer tournament to raise funds battling cancer.

Katie Rogers (from left), Delaney McDonnell, Cait Cliggett and Maria Deieso have organized the Kick Out Cancer Soccer Tournament. This year they’re helping children tackle the disease. PHOTO: MARIA DEIESO

Teenage girls can spend money quickly.

Prom dresses cost money. Haircuts cost money. Just hanging out costs money.

So two years ago, when Maria Deieso asked her mom, Christine, if she could borrow her credit card to buy some clothes, she was a little surprised when she found out how much money she needed.

Surprised, but very proud.

“They were putting on a soccer tournament to raise money and she asked me if I could put the shirts on my credit card,” Christine recalled. “I asked how much and she needed $882. I couldn’t believe it. But that’s how many shirts they needed. It wasn’t a little fundraiser, it was a big fundraiser.”

Now in its third year, it’s a big, successful fundraiser that helps people who need it most.

On June 17, the four girls — Maria, Delaney McDonnell, Katie Rogers and Caitlin Cliggett — will run the third Kick Out Cancer Soccer Tournament at Philly Soccer Club, 10402 Decatur Road.

The idea started three years ago when the girls were at a Philadelphia Union soccer game and they decided they wanted to do something to help Shannon McMahon and Tenille Nunsgesser, two soccer moms who were battling cancer.

All four girls are now juniors and play soccer. Deieso, McDonnell and Rogers play for Archbishop Ryan High School, and Cliggett plays for Archbishop Wood. So while they wanted to help, they also wanted to do something fun. That’s how the soccer tournament was created.

The rules are taken from the popular Beach Blast, held each year in North Wildwood and Wildwood. There are four players and a goalie on each side, and teams can have up to 10 players.

“We kind of do everything, but it’s so much fun,” said Rogers, a defender on the Ragdolls. “The first year we did it, we really put it together quickly because we wanted to do it quickly. But now we have a lot more time, and it’s better and better every year.”

As the tournament has evolved, so have the donations.

Last year, proceeds went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as Angelica Hesser, who was battling cancer.

This year, the event will benefit Philomena Stendardo, who has brain cancer, and Sam and Aislin McGonigle, siblings who are fighting lymphoma.

Last year’s tournament featured 49 teams of all ages, and the hope is to have at least that many this year.

That means a lot of running around, a lot of t-shirts to order, a lot of paperwork and a lot of soccer.

It also means a lot of fun.

“It’s a very busy day, but it’s a great day for the community and for soccer because we’re helping and having fun,” said McDonnell, also a defender on the Ragdolls. “I have fun because I’m doing it with my friends. It’s great to help. It is very busy, and there’s always something more to do, but when it’s going on, you see how much fun everybody is having.”

The fun part is really a bonus.

The main thing is helping people who need it most.

“We planned a lot more last year and more this year because the first one was great, but we wanted it to go bigger and bigger,” Maria said. “We have everything. It’s fun for everyone. We have a great DJ. We have things for kids. And there’s soccer, everyone who goes loves soccer. It is getting bigger and bigger, and because of that, we can help more people.”

While the girls are the key to the tournament, it helps that they have support.

All get help from their parents. They also get support from their teammates and the Northeast soccer community.

“I think people see you helping cancer patients, and they want to help,” said Cliggett, who plays center midfield for the Vikings. “We do the soccer things, but our parents help with the food. It’s a lot of people helping out. We work hard, but we’re hanging with our friends and watching soccer. It’s things we love doing, we’re just helping people at the same time.”

The girls definitely go the extra mile for this tournament.

They help line the fields, make sure all the games run on schedule and they even put on stripes and make sure the games are called right down the middle.

At least they try.

“I’ll ref when they need it, and that’s fun,” Rogers said. “The teams are pretty nice, nobody yells. I think I do a good job, but I know the teams know this is for a good cause. I haven’t had to throw anyone out! Everybody has fun and is there to help. They want to win, but helping is more important.”

That’s the plan, anyway.

The girls have done this their entire high school career and they’re hoping it’s a tradition that continues for a long time.

But right now their focus is June 17.

“It’s exciting because we know people are going to get help they need,” Maria said. “There are so many people who need help, and when you’re able to do it, it helps them feel good. That’s what we want to do. It’s fun, and it’s a great cause.”

For more information or to sign up for the tournament, visit kickoutcancer1.webs.com/ or email kickoutcancer1@gmail.com

If you would like to donate, visit gofundme.com/kick-out-cancer-soccer-tournament