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2011 News Releases
Longwood junior competes on the U.S. Paralympic men’s soccer team
July 20, 2011
Longwood University junior Nick Creasey is a member of the U.S. Paralympic men's soccer team that qualified recently for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
The team qualified for the tournament by finishing eighth among the 16 teams that competed in 2011 CPISRA Football 7-a-Side World Championships held in the Netherlands in late June. The top seven teams and host United Kingdom qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Games, to be held in late August and early September. In the recent qualifying tournament in the Netherlands, the U.S. squad finished second in the four-team Group D, one of four such groups from which the top two teams in each qualified for next year's Paralympic Games. The U.S. team defeated Japan 4-0 on June 19 (in Assen), lost to Iran 7-2 on June 21 (in Emmen), and beat Ireland 3-2 on June 23 (in Hoogeveen), finishing with six points in group play. The victory over Ireland clinched the team's berth in the Paralympic Games. Had the Irish won, they, and not the Americans, would have qualified.
"Ireland was heavily favored, so it was a huge upset," said Creasey, a forward on the 12-member team. "Beating Ireland was the best feeling ever. We left everything we had on that field. When the final whistle blew, everyone was running onto the field, and it was like a dream come true, truly a gratifying feeling and a big step for our team. We're thankful we're going to London, especially since we didn't qualify for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. This established us as one of the top eight teams in the world."
After group play concluded in the recent tournament in the Netherlands, there were three more rounds, the results of which were used to determine seedings in the Paralympic Games. Because the U.S. team lost all three of those matches (to Russia on June 26, to Scotland on June 29, and to Argentina on July 1), they will be seeded eighth. The Paralympic Games, which provide competition for athletes with physical disabilities, always follow the Olympic Games and are held in the same city.
As is always the case with tournaments, Creasey will have to tryout for team that will compete in the Paralympic Games. He is among a "pool" of about 30 players who regularly tryout for the team through camps held in Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego. Since becoming involved in Paralympic soccer while in high school, he has attended more than 10 camps. All expenses related to the Paralympic men's soccer team, both for camps and tournaments, are sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
"I will be in the pool of players who hope to make the roster of 12 for that team," said Creasey, an art education major from Chesterfield County. "I will have to train for the next 13 months and will try to be in the best shape I can be in. I'll be attending a camp in August (2011) and possibly two more camps before the end of the year, and there will be more camps in 2012."
The recent tournament in the Netherlands, sponsored by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports & Recreation Association (CPISRA), was the fourth international soccer tournament in which Creasey has played. He also played in two previous tournaments in the Netherlands (in May 2009 and October 2009) and one in England (May 2010).
Paralympic soccer is is played seven-on-a-side on a smaller field and with smaller goals than non-disabled soccer. To be eligible for Paralympic soccer, athletes must be ambulatory and have a diagnosis of non-progressive brain damage that is associated with motor control dysfunction such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or stroke.
Creasey suffered a traumatic brain injury at age five that has permanently affected his right side. He has had two major brain surgeries. Creasey began playing organized soccer at age four and since 2004 has been a grade-eight licensed soccer referee, which enables him to work all games up to but excluding collegiate and professional games. A fuller story on Creasey will appear in the upcoming issue of Longwood magazine.