A new member was added to the UCI men’s soccer family on Tuesday, as 10-year old Julio Godoy signed his national letter of intent for the Anteaters with the help of Team IMPACT, an organization that pairs children with life-threatening illnesses with sports teams.
Julio, a lifelong soccer fan, took part in a press conference and received an official game jersey at the Koll Room in the Bren Events Center in front of the team and his family.
Head coach Chris Volk and senior captain Matthew Tilley manned the podium with Julio and made speeches welcoming him and his family into the UC Irvine program.
“Thanks for inviting me to this team, and all you have done,” a soft-spoken Julio remarked.
After signing his name to make his induction official, Julio was joined on the stage by Randall McDermott and Tilley to receive a #19 game jersey that he will wear as an honorary captain for the UC Riverside match.
Sac Republic forward Cameron Iwasa, Indy Eleven defender Marco Franco, and Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans, three UCI alumni who play professionally, had also put together a short video wishing Julio the best and welcoming him and his family into their new UCI family.
Julio fielded a few questions from the spectators at the end of the ceremony, divulging that his favorite player is Messi. He likes to play any position, and likes all the players on his new team equally.
“A perfect teammate,” said Volk.
Afterwards, Volk commented on the importance of the relationship between Julio and his team.
“We’ve had a tough season, and sometimes as a student athlete, you gauge your happiness on your win-loss record. Hopefully, having this relationship with Julio gives them a perspective on life in that every day is an opportunity to be healthy and have the ability to get out of bed and go to school and learn and play sports — that’s success. [Julio] struggles at times to have that opportunity, so if it’s given them anything, maybe that perspective would be the best lesson learned.”
Julio suffers from aplastic anemia, and is actively looking for a bone marrow transplant match. His baby sister, who was present at the press conference, is a match, but is currently too small to be eligible for the operation.
Tilley revealed a personal connection to Julio’s disease and cancer in general, mentioning close friends and family who have suffered with it.
“To have Julio around and be a part of this program hits home for me,” said Tilley, who also echoed Volk’s sentiments about gaining perspective from the relationship with Julio and the team.
Julio has been a good luck charm for the Anteaters as they finished their regular season this week, and the team has not lost since his signing.