She grew up playing every sport imaginable. By her early twenties, she began using methamphetamines, which led to a number of visits to the hospital, serving time in jail, being cut off from her parents and losing the custody of her daughter.
American River College student Sarah Chambers entered a rehabilitation program at the age of 29 and joined Street Soccer USA (SSUS), a nonprofit organization that uses soccer to break the cycle of homelessness, addiction and abuse.
Three women from the Sacramento Lady Salamander’s SSUSA spoke to ARC students on Feb. 19, which included Chambers, Angie Draws and Lisa Wrightsman.
Draws began to use drugs by the age of 16 and by the end of high school she was living with her drug dealer boyfriend.
“I was a functional drug addict. I held down a job and paid rent but eventually I lost my job, my home, my family, and my friends.”
Draws became involved with SSUSA in 2010.
“I had no real structure before street soccer. My whole life (was) surrounded around being high and street soccer taught me the importance of showing up because anyone who knows me knows I am always late and can’t be held accountable.”
Wrightsman, the founder and director of the Sacramento Lady Salamanders, grew up with a soccer ball at her feet. She attended Sacramento State University where she played soccer, and continued her career as a semi-professional soccer player.
Wrightsman began to use drugs once she realized she wasn’t going any further with her career.
“My whole life revolved around soccer, so when it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was out on the streets for two years abusing drugs, and not getting anywhere,” Wrightsman said.
Wrightsman was the first woman to represent USA in the Homeless World Cup in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 2010.
Statistically SSUSA is making an impact here in Sacramento.
“The national average for sobriety is one out of 10 and here in our program we have 64% furthering their education, 94% remaining sober, 41% off of welfare, and 41% in permanent housing,” said Wrightsman.
“Street soccer has taught me to be a light rather than a raging tornado,” said Draws.