For the second year, the Washington University in St. Louis women’s soccer team welcomed the Christ the King Royal Knights to a team practice at Francis Field. The Bears showed the first-grade girls how to take a shot on goal; the girls reminded the Bears why they love the game.
“It was as much fun for us as it was for them,” said junior midfielder Tessa Klumpp. “Hopefully they will take this memory and continue to play soccer themselves or pursue whatever passion they have.”
Christ the King is a Catholic church and elementary school in University City, about two miles from the WUSTL campus. The relationship between the two teams started two years ago, when Tom Rea contacted WUSTL women’s soccer coach Jim Conlon.
“I didn’t expect him to spend so much time with us, but that is the sort of person Coach Conlon is,” Rea said. “I wanted our girls to have this experience because Washington University players are so good, but, more importantly to me, they are excellent role models.”
The No. 2-ranked Bears have dominated this season, going 11-1 against top-ranked teams. Yet the scrappy Royal Knights bested the Bears during an intense scrimmage.
“I scored four goals in a row,” said 7-year-old Ella Schuermann.
“That was funnest part — scoring the goals,” agreed teammate Cece Rea.
After practice, Cece Rea asked her dad if the team could practice with the Bears every week.
“It is the one practice of the year where they don’t ask for a water break,” said Rea.
After practice, both teams gathered for a group photo. Five days later, the Christ the King players returned to Francis Field to cheer on the Bears in their 2-1 victory over No. 14 Carnegie Mellon University.
“I made a poster that said, ‘Washington University rocks. Go Bears!’” Cece said. “It was pink and purple.”
“It was really touching to see them there,” Klumpp said.”There they were jumping with the signs. We had them join us at the end of the game for our team cheer.”