Playing from a new perspective

  • Attendees at the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit held in Staunton, Virginia, at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The summit is the first in a growing effort to expand the possibilities for visually-impaired athletes. COURTESY

  • Attendees at the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit held in Staunton, Virginia, at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The summit is the first in a growing effort to expand the possibilities for visually-impaired athletes. COURTESY

  • Attendees at the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit. COURTESY

 Monitor staff
Published: 6/27/2022 3:46:31 PM

A small, yet pivotal moment in the soccer world took place this past week and New Hampshire’s own Kyle Gray was there to experience it all.

Gray, a Manchester native and current student at NHTI studying sports management, was one of 26 coaches and educators from across the country that attended the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit in Staunton, Virginia.

The summit, which took place on June 21-22, provided Gray and his peers with the opportunity to share and collaborate on how to grow the game of blind soccer back in their respective parts of the country. It’s more than just blind soccer for Gray, however. He’s a disabled veteran and is using his platform to help others in his position.

In the early portions of dealing with his disability, Gray struggled and the struggle affected his mental health. Through sports, he’s found his saving grace.

Through his connections with his background in the New Hampshire National Guard, Gray reconnected with a former coach of his in Ara Tamzarian, and the two quickly rekindled their bond over sports. It was Tamzarian who got Gray out of his dark place and back on track.

“He invited me to come down to his Challenger night for baseball that night and then invited me to coach tee-ball over at Central Little League,” Gray said. “During one of the nights, he told me about a Clemson Veteran Adaptive Soccer Camp that he would be running and because of everything that was going on in my life, I thought, why not give it a shot to see what it was all about.”

Gray attended Tamzarian’s camp last summer and since then has made his new mission all about giving disabled veterans and others a platform to play sports without fear or repercussion of their disability.

His newly learned skills from the recent summit will be put to the test in mid-July when he runs the same adaptive soccer camp that he only participated in last year. The camp, which receives sponsorship from Clemson University and funds from Veterans Affairs, run July 19-21 and even with set dates, Gray still notes the difficulties.

“Some of the biggest challenges we will face are funding and getting the support to allow that to take off,” he said. “We need to bring more public awareness about adaptive sports as a whole.”

Gray’s camp is intended for more veterans with disabilities to take playing fields with a sense of comfort and make new social connections as well in order to establish a sense of relatability. He also hopes to expand the camp to non-veterans as well. 


Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.



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