Earthquakes showcase power wheelchair soccer at PayPal Park

The San Jose Earthquakes hosted its community night event showcasing partnerships with groups like the San Jose Steamrollers, a soccer league of players who use power chairs to play the sport. 

The San Jose Steamrollers are soccer players who just happen to be physically disabled. Using skills they already have, they compete like any other athlete.  

As fans headed into PayPal Park Wednesday night to see the Earthquakes play Seattle, they were also able to see a different kind of soccer match in the parking lot called Power Soccer. 

"They’re amazing and way more skilled than you can even imagine. It’s wonderful to see them out there having a great time and enjoying the sport," said Heidi Fetter, an Earthquakes' fan from San Jose.   

The Steamrollers began in 1988 and was one of the first teams to help form the U.S. Power Soccer Association. Power soccer is the first sport designed for power wheelchair users, who have physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and many others. 

Lola Grace, 21 and a Steamrollers player, has been playing since she was 10 years old. 


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"I like the independence it gives me. Unlike other sports, someone with a disability, you always need help. With this sport, you can do it by yourself. The competitiveness, I do love as well," said Lola Grace.

The wheelchairs move by using a controller. The players make power soccer look a lot easier than it really is. John Connelly, Steamrollers head coach and father of power soccer player Ryan Connelly, says the sport allows players to build self-confidence, learn group dynamics, and problem-solving. 

"It gets them out into the community so that warms my heart," he said. "It provides them interaction with other players and other people like themselves," said Connelly.  

The Quakes Foundation supports the Steamrollers by raising awareness about power soccer and assisting with travel expenses and buying equipment. 

"We’ve had some of the first-team players go out and visit their practices and games. It’s just been so awesome to see them kind of elevate their platform and show a different aspect of how you can play soccer and how they’re able to play," said Audie Amirkiai, Quakes Foundation community relations manager.  

The Earthquakes are also hosting three watch parties for the Women’s World Cup on July 21, 26 and August 1st at PayPal’s Epicenter. It’s free and will include activities, prizes, and giveaways.