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Wright State volleyball team forming bond with 10-year-old girl

A 10-year-old girl thinks the Wright State volleyball players are rock stars. The feeling is mutual.

Leah Van Beveren, of Beavercreek, started attending Raider games earlier this season through the Team Impact organization, whose mission is improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Van Beveren was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when she was 8 weeks old, Wright State coach Susan Clements said, and had six weeks of chemotherapy and more than 20 surgeries. She lost her left eye to cancer at 14 months and now has a prosthetic eye.

Van Beveren has no depth perception or 3D vision, suffers from hearing loss and has a type of Retinoblastoma that predisposes her to other cancers. She can’t play volleyball because of her sight problems, but she has fallen in love with the Wright State team and vice versa.

“We met her at our first home game,” Clements said. “Her mom stopped us after the game. She got our poster at the Popcorn Festival. She met the team that night and came back the next day. She just wants to be around the girls. They really enjoy her. They’ll teach her some skills to give her confidence a boost and be a support system for her.”

The team will take an extra step at 4 p.m. Tuesday by “drafting” Van Beveren onto the team in a ceremony at the Nutter Center. She will have her own locker with her name on it. Clements said sophomore Katie Glassmeyer and freshman Miranda Puthoff have spearheaded the effort.

“It’s kind of a yearlong thing until she goes into high school,” Clements said. “It’s not just a one-year thing.”

The Raiders (6-11) play in Wisconsin this weekend with a match at Green Bay today and at Milwaukee on Saturday. They went 0-3 at the Flyer Classic last weekend with losses to Western Michigan, Western Kentucky and Dayton.

Men’s soccer: The Raiders’ winless streak grew to five with a 2-1 loss at Duke. Wright State (1-4-1) led 1-0 at halftime on Brett Elder’s goal. Duke won with two goals in the last 25 minutes.

The Raiders begin Horizon League play at home at 7 p.m. Saturday against Valparaiso.

Women’s soccer: The Raiders lost 4-1 at No. 21 West Virginia on Sunday to fall to 2-4-3. Emilie Fillion scored Wright State’s only goal, her fifth of the season.

The Raiders play three straight Horizon League games at home, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday against Youngstown State.

Golf: Cody Nickson was Wright State’s top finisher at the Cardinal Intercollegiate in Simpsonville, Ky. He was 40th with a three-round score of 225 (77-73-75).

Softball: Six Wright State softball players were named All-America Scholar-Athletes by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association: senior Kacie Rapshus, juniors Angie Clark and Jess Gorman, sophomore Taylor Knore and graduated players, Lindsay Barrett and Colleen Schneider.

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