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University of Michigan student aims to establish Michigan's first amputee soccer team

University of Michigan student aims to establish Michigan's first amputee soccer team
University of Michigan student aims to establish Michigan's first amputee soccer team 04:26

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A new soccer clinic founded by a University of Michigan senior is gaining popularity in Southeast Michigan. 

Emily Eitzman founded the U-M Amputee Soccer Camp after becoming involved with the school's Adaptive Sports Program. 

"Right now at the University of Michigan, I'm working to start an amputee soccer team," she said. 

It would be the first of its kind in the state. 

"I've been doing a lot of outreach to different hospitals, O&P clinics, different teams," said Eitzman. "I've gotten a lot of interest. At the first camp, we had about three amputees, I think, and we already have much more at this camp." 

"We heard about it from the U of M," said parent Josh Morse. "That's where he goes to see his prosthetic. It's amazing. But it's a lot of work; it's not easy. I'm trying to keep up!" 

Morse's son, Benton, lost his leg two years ago. 

"I had cancer, so... it's been gone a while now," he said. "And I really haven't done sports; it's pretty fun." 

Jayme Moerdyke's son, Owen, also lost his leg to cancer. 

"He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer, in 2022," said Moerdyke. "(He) went through treatment, including amputation on his leg. He finished up treatment in January of last year." 

She said Owen started playing amputee soccer with an established program in Columbus, Ohio, in the fall. 

However, the U-M clinic is much closer to home. 

"Owen was a soccer player before his diagnosis, so this has allowed him to get back into the sport at a more competitive level," she said. "(And) be around people that are in a similar situation around him and feel more confident about things as well. So, get back into the game that means so much to him." 

The camp is for adults and children alike; everyone is welcome. 

"So, it's a little different for me," said participant Katy Thorpe. "I was born with my amputation, so this kind of stuff didn't exist when I was a kid. I didn't ever see another amputee till I was in my late 20s, so getting the opportunity to get out and see people like you and get active and do something fun is really exciting." 

Thorpe is a prosthetist and heard about the soccer camp from one of her patients. 

Teresa Stankewicz is a Type 2 diabetic who recently had her leg amputated after doctors tried to treat a severe Charcot complication in her right foot. 

"I love sports and did sports my whole life, and so anything I can do to continue to progress forward and get my quality of life back—that's what I'm trying to do," said Stankewicz. 

Stankewicz shared that, after nine surgeries, she decided to go ahead with the amputation. 

"I have a great attitude; I'm a special education teacher," she said. "So, I work with students in wheelchairs and things like that, so I know it could always be much worse. And so, I try to live my life the best I can every day." 

"For these camps, you don't have to be an amputee," said Eitzman. "Obviously, amputee soccer is really great for people with limb differences to have the opportunity to play. But at these camps, I hop in; you know, the coaches hop in. Whoever wants to play is welcome, and we definitely encourage everyone to come out and try it. It's really hard and lots of fun." 

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