Before Jason Handley became the Regional Commissioner (RC) of Region 414 in Cullman, Ala., he had a very busy schedule and didn't know or care much about soccer. But when tragedy struck and Jason had the opportunity to change the life of a little girl named Ada-Rose, everything changed.
After one of Jason's closest friends, John Perdue, unexpectedly passed away in 2009, John's father, Tom, took custody of his granddaughter, Ada-Rose. Similar to Jason, Tom knew very little about soccer.
At 8 years old, the little soccer player approached Jason and told him that the only way she would continue playing soccer was if he and her grandfather coached her team. Jason's heart was filled with joy and he wanted to coach for her and in memory of her dad.
Ada-Rose loved to play soccer, mainly because her dad grew up playing the game. When John passed away, Jason knew he had to step up and coach her AYSO U-10 team. Throughout the season, Jason thought he was stepping in to help Ada-Rose, but little did he know, this experience would also change him for the rest of his life.
“Through this sad time, Ada-Rose inspired me to have purpose through my coaching, joy in my teaching and love throughout the time with the team,” said Jason. “Before when I would coach, it was all about winning the game. She along with AYSO, taught me as a coach how to effectively mentor and share myself through the game of soccer.”
Four years later, Ada-Rose continues to love the game and is about to enter another season in AYSO. She has met many friends through her years of playing in Region 414 and stays active by singing solos in church and inviting friends to attend Sunday school.
“Coaching is one of the most rewarding opportunities I have ever had,” says Jason. “If kids can keep their smiles, they’ll never be found on the losing end.”