Two brothers win hearts of women’s soccer


The Appalachian Online

Monica Crawford

At any home women’s soccer game this season, Riley and Ryder Allison are two faces that can always be found in the crowd.

They are the children of Hope and Jason Allison who work in the athletic department at App State with the basketball team. Riley and Ryder Allison both have autism and have both made a special connection with the App State women’s soccer team.

They were first introduced to the team by head coach Sarah Strickland, whose daughter met Riley and Ryder at school. Strickland and her daughter would attend basketball games with them, and soon after, the boys began attending the soccer games.

This past summer, the boys went to the soccer camps put on by the team where they were able to bond with the team. Sophomore forward Erin Settle, who is majoring in special education, had the opportunity to work with Riley and Ryder at the camps.

“This summer I worked the July and June camps, and [Strickland] introduced me to Ryder and Riley,” Settle said. “It was just awesome because just seeing what they can do for our program, they are such a blessing.”

The team had a birthday party for Riley, who turned 9 years old last week.

Strickland said that the party was not only a way for the team to give back to Riley, but it was also key in helping the team prepare for their games over the weekend.

“Our program stands for an attitude of gratitude, and we try to live it every day,” Strickland said. “One of the ways was living the gratitude of [Hope and Jason Allison] allowing Riley and Ryder to be part of our program and be present. To allow us to do [the party] on Monday was a huge deal for our program.”

Settle said the team loves having the boys at the games just as much as Riley and Ryder love going to the games. Their presence on the sidelines is able to shine a positive light on the game, regardless of the outcome.

“It’s just great because we love them, and they have such an impact on us,” Settle said. “Seeing them at our games, you can’t help it but smile. I love them, and our team absolutely loves them. You can tell as soon as you see them- our faces light up.”

Story by: Monica Crawford, Intern Sports Reporter