MORAGA, Calif. (KTVU) - Saint Mary’s newest soccer recruit is… unique.
“I thought soccer was pretty cool,” says Quentin Rios. “So I thought I should be in soccer so my mom did this for me and I'm really proud.”
“It's been incredible,” add Mary Rios. “There was so much excitement coming into it, but you don't really know what to expect until you get here, it's just been magical really.”
A magical day for a family that really deserves it. Quentin Rios is seven years old - and battling brain cancer.
“He was diagnosed just prior to his 3rd birthday, so really he doesn't know childhood outside of cancer and cancer treatments," says Mary. “So being able to be a part of a team, having that sense of brotherhood has been phenomenal for him."
“Team Impact contacted our athletic department and wanted to see if anybody was interested,” notes St. Mary’s head soccer coach Adam Cooper. “I got the email and right away this was a no-brainer.”
“They went to my house, we had a nerf gun war, somebody broke my lamp. I didn't even know they gave me a shirt,” says Quentin.
A shirt bearing #87 – emblematic of the 87-week duration of his first round of chemotherapy. But the young boy took it all in stride.
“I been feeling great but I get sick now and then.”
“Even on his worst days feeling horrible, he would never be down,” adds Mary. “If I was struggling, I could pull strength from him he'd give me a big hug, it's OK mom, we're gonna get through this. And we would pull through it.”
Further evidence that Quentin is now a legit member of the SMC team - he's got his own locker stall, complete with name plate, that is permanent. Just like his new relationships.
“When I first met coach Coop I asked him was this for a season? He said no, once you're part of this St. Mary's team you're in for life,’ says Mary. “That was so reassuring and they've been there for everything since day one.”
“He's such a vibrant funny kid, he's full of energy, full of personality, says Cooper. “So are our players. To watch them interact and plat together and just communicate, it's pretty fun to watch.”
And while Quentin’s game remains a work in progress, his attitude is fully developed – and embraced by the entire family. Unabashedly optimistic.
“You never know what to expect,” says Mary. “He definitely makes the impossible seem possible.”
“Even until the end of the day when I have to leave today,” adds Quentin. “It's been a good day.”