STANDISH, Maine – The Saint Joseph's College women's soccer program officially welcomed their latest teammate on Monday when the Monks signed four year-old Brooklyn Cormier of Eliot, Maine with a signing ceremony held in the Hall of Fame Room of the Harold Alfond Center.
Brooklyn, the daughter of Shelby Cormier, becomes a member of the SJC women's soccer team while battling Cerebral Palsy (CP), which is the most common physical form of childhood disability. CP affects body movement and muscle control and can lead to tight and rigid muscles that continually contract. This is a condition known as spasticity, which can interfere with normal movements and can cause significant challenges with balance when trying to stand and walk.
Diagnosed with CP soon after her first birthday, Brooklyn – who along with her twin brother, Logan, was born over two months premature – feels the effects of the disability in both of her legs.
In the summer of 2017, she underwent life changing spinal cord surgery, called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), to eliminate the spasticity and give her a chance at learning to walk independently. Early returns have been very encouraging, as Brooklyn is now able to use her walker on her own and can walk over 40 steps, without assistance, when she is wearing her braces. She was unable to achieve either of these functions just one year ago.
"Brooklyn is just like every kid her age – she wants to play, have fun, eat goldfish and make new friends," said her mom, Shelby.
One of Brooklyn's favorite things to do is cheer on her cousin Hailey Tarr (Eliot, Maine), who is a junior defender on the women's soccer team. She also enjoys racing her brother on the St. Joe's track after home soccer games.
As part of the signing ceremony, Brooklyn was given a Monks game jersey, which sports the number "3" on the back, the same number that Tarr wears.
When asked what it means to see her little cousin wearing her number, Tarr said "it means everything…seeing her in the same number that I have, it means a lot."
"We are very honored to have Brooklyn join our team," adds Head Coach Jenelle Harris. "Brooklyn has attended almost every game since Hailey's freshman year and is a prime example of our program's foundations: commitment, family, competitive fire, and accountability."
"She is a fighter who never gives up and has been improving with every physical therapy session she attends," Harris continues. "Brooklyn is truly an inspiration for our team. Brooklyn Strong!"
By bringing awareness to Cerebral Palsy and the treatments and therapies that are available the hope is to bring help educate others and change the lives of children and even adults with CP.
If interested in learning more about cerebral palsy and following Brooklyn's progress, folks are encouraged to join her Facebook page, which is called Brooklyn's SDR Journey.
PHOTO GALLERY (courtesy of Lisa Balam & Shelby Cormier)