The Dickeys are a soccer family.
Mrs. Dickey goes to all her children’s games. Mr. Dickey coaches them.
They bring orange slices for players at halftime, and talk strategy at dinnertime.
They drive a soccer van, complete with a standard white stick-people decal on the back.
A closer look shows that it’s been adapted for handicap use, and the children portrayed on the sticker are in wheelchairs.
Katie Dickey, their 21-year-old daughter, is a World Champion in Power Soccer, which was developed in France and introduced to the United States in the ’80s, according to powersoccerusa.com.
Played on a basketball court using an oversized soccer ball, it was the first sport developed specifically for power wheelchair users. Players attach a guard to the front of their chairs, and “kick” the ball by spinning their chairs and hitting the ball with the guard.
Dickey was born with Distal Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which is a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. The genetic disease is a product of a recessive trait shared by both of her healthy parents.
She is able to walk short distances, she said, but decided to start using her chair after seeing her younger brother Jordan, who has been in a power chair since age 2, begin playing Power Soccer.
“I saw how much fun he was having and I started to meet a lot of people,” she said. “I decided I would start playing too, and using my chair.”
Dickey started playing Power Soccer seven years ago, and immediately gained confidence that transferred over into her daily life.
“When I was younger, sometime I would have pity-parties for myself, but that doesn’t really happen too often anymore,” she said, “Joining soccer and being around people like me makes it easier.”
Dickey has developed into an elite Power Soccer player, and her skill shows when she plays.
“She gets really intense and competitive,” said Rebecca Denis, Dickey’s close friend and fellow student at Arizona State University.
Dickey brought her intensity to the Power Soccer World Cup in Paris in November, as a member of the U.S. National Power Soccer team. The single-elimination tournament featured teams from 10 countries and four different continents.
“We were there for two weeks, mostly practicing every day,” Dickey said, “It was at the Opening Ceremony when it finally hit me that we were playing for our country.”
Team USA beat England 3-0 in the finals and became the world champions for the second time in a row — the only American soccer team to ever do so.