Shea: from Training Fields to the World Stage
Student Life Editor
This past summer, Cameron student Patrick Shea found himself on the world stage playing for the U.S. Men’s National Deaf Soccer team in the 3rd World Deaf Football Championships in Italy.
Shea, a junior interdisciplinary studies major, joined the team in 2012 when he attended his first training camp in Columbus, Ohio.
“Coming in as a first-timer and doing this, I was told that I was going to be playing in a stadium full of a couple thousand people when just last week I was playing in front of parents,” he said.
After getting his start, Shea attended three more training camps over the four-year period he has been a part of the team, visiting Pittsburgh, San Diego and Dallas before venturing overseas to Italy.
In between the camps, Shea said he stayed fit and practice under his own self-discipline because he didn’t have the convenience of playing on a semi-pro or collegiate team.
“I had to rely on playing in different teams around the state, whether its recreation leagues or offseason leagues,” he said. “I kind of surprised myself because I thought I wouldn’t make it to the World Cup team when my other teammates have all this experience.”
Shea’s perseverance to train on his own was a result of abandoning his chances to play on a college team to attend to a family emergency.
“I had to drop my classes for the semester to take care of what I needed to take care of,” he said.
All in all, Shea prioritizes his family and uses it as a driving force in furthering his soccer career. He said soccer is in his blood.
“Both of my uncles were professional soccer players in Germany and France,” he said. “I come from a family of professional athletes.”
In return for supporting his family in a time of crisis, they have supported Shea back by helping to fund his athletic career.
Since players shoulder much of the financial burden of being on the team, they look for funding from friends, family and fundraisers. Shea said it was difficult getting all the money he needed just for the trip to the World Championships.
“Each teammate had to raise $5,000,” he said. “We needed the money for the hotel, the food we needed to buy [and] medical supplies for treatment of sore legs.
“I was struggling [fundraising] at first but thankfully KSWO and the professional soccer team the Oklahoma City Energy pitched in and spread my story. I made [$5,000] two weeks before due date.”
The struggle for funding goes beyond the expenses for travel, food and lodging. Shea said the team borrows old jerseys and other equipment as hand-me-downs.
“We want to get sponsors,” he said. “We’re not even sponsored by Nike; we have to ask them to loan us old equipment.”
More international matches are upcoming for the team as they look to qualify for the Deaflympics. Shea said he is worried about being able to afford being part of the team.
“I would love to have everybody’s help on that because again it’s probably going to be another expensive fundraising campaign,” he said. “The title of Olympian is another goal of mine.”
Shea said he thinks the dedication he and his teammates have for soccer and playing on the deaf team is worthy of accolades.
“We’re sixth-ranked in the world,” he said, “and we worked hard for that rank. We just feel like we deserve a little something to help us get by.
“It’s exhausting, but if I want to stay on the team, because I’m passionate for it, I’m always going to do what I can.”