Meet Thomas Moran: 2009 Echo Ranch soccer coach

Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009

It is important to the staff of Echo Ranch that our volunteers give their very best and care about the kids they are here to work with. A person could have all the credentials in the world, but if their heart isn't in the right place, what good does that do?

Young people are very good at detecting an older person who is being fake. The more campers know the person in charge is concerned about their well being, the more likely they are to follow direction and develop a positive attitude.

In regards to our soccer camp, we have always tried to find coaches with excellent knowledge of the game and a desire to see young people succeed. Thomas Moran is our 2009 soccer coach, and I'm excited to share his story with you.

Moran is originally from the small town of Nunda, located 50 miles south of Rochester in upstate New York. As a result of being born with cerebral palsy, Moran faced many challenges early on in life. There were people who said he would never be able to function in a public school and doctors told him he would never be able to walk. The biggest put down of all was being told he would never be able to play sports.

Moran was sidelined, but he was determined never to give up. Moran walked across the stage at his high school graduation. Then in college, Moran declared physical education as his major. Still, people said it couldn't be done. How could a person with cerebral palsy teach PE class?

Moran earned his degree and now has a doctorate and works as an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Moran's love for soccer started when he was young. Soccer was the popular sport in the small town of Nunda and many of Moran's friends played the game. If he was going to be involved then coaching was the next logical step.

At age 14, Moran began coaching youth teams and in high school was a manager and assistant coach. Part of the reason he wasn't allowed to play soccer was because the rules stated his cane was considered a weapon on the field.

During college, Moran volunteered as assistant coach for the men's team at SUNY Cortland, a division 3 school. Moran coached at Cortland a total of four years as he completed his BSED in physical education.

In order to combine his love for soccer and helping children with disabilities, Moran created a not-for-profit organization in 2003 called Just for Kicks, which provides soccer clinics to children with disabilities.

"I would not let any child I come in contact with miss out on the opportunities I missed out on when I was young," Moran writes. "Soccer teaches students to work as a team, helps them develop skills to be successful on the field and off, learn self confidence, learn that everyone has an important role, and all eleven players within the game are vital to the teams' success. Your hard work and ability to grow as a player will help your team grow and be successful."

I think Moran and Echo Ranch soccer camp will be a good fit. Moran has already sent out letters asking for support, and we've gotten equipment donations from Euorsport, including soccer balls, socks, shin guards, T-shirts, training gear and more. The National Soccer Coaches Association has donated training materials as well. Interestingly, Moran has connections to Speed Stacks, a competition cup stacking company that donated cup stacking equipment to help players develop coordination.

"Soccer is the world's game and there is a reason for it," Moran said. "Soccer is a game that allows children to develop themselves inside and out. We will not only work to help your children improve and gain they skills they will need to be successful soccer player, we will give them the knowledge and appropriate attitudes they need to be successful citizens in today's challenging world. Come to our camp and see how life's barriers are turned into hurdles both on and off the field."

Echo Ranch Soccer Camp is for ages 8 to 15 and is designed for players of all skill levels. The camp runs June 22 to 26, and you can register online at

• Jon-Michael Gwinnell is a staff member at Echo Ranch Bible Camp. He can be reached at

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