By Margie M. Palmer
La Mesa soccer player picked for unique mentorship program
Emma Cashman isn’t your average seventh-grade soccer player.
Earlier this year, the home-schooled La Mesan was chosen to be one of just 11 girls, ages 11 to 15, from China, South Korea, Brazil and the United States, to be flown to Manchester, England as part of Chevrolet’s GoalKeeper program.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Chevrolet has hosted children as mascots for Manchester United’s soccer match versus Tottenham Hotspur, said a Chevrolet spokesperson, but it’s the first year they’ve focused solely on young women.
The premise of the GoalKeeper program is to provide them with an opportunity to gain the tools, knowledge and inspiration needed to achieve their goals; a recent study by global consultancy Ernst & Young indicates that more than 90 percent of female business leaders played sports as children.
This year’s GoalKeepers have a diverse array of ambitions, from interior design to medicine and as such, Chevrolet paired each of them with a mentor who will help her devise benchmarks and coach her toward reaching her goals.
Cashman, who has dreams of becoming an interior designer, was paired with Chevrolet Lead Designer Ven Lai, who specializes in color and trim.
“My mentor designs all the interior and exterior of the Chevrolet cars and I found it really interesting, because when you think about designing a car, you can pick any color you want and pick a color that matches the inside, but I learned you have to learn about the person you’re designing the car for,” she said. “You need to learn if they’re going to go on a lot of camping trips and if they do a lot of fun family activities because if so, they’re going to want a bigger car that’s more suitable for a big family and a lot of messes. It they are more of a chill-and-go-to-the-beach person you’ll want to design a smaller car that’s still big enough to pick up friends.”
Cashman was quick to acknowledge that the experience was “so much more” than being paired with a mentor.
Traveling to Manchester, meeting the Manchester United team and walking onto the field with them, was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old, so for about eight years. When my dad found out about the [GoalKeeper] program he nominated me, and it took about two to three months to find out I was picked. That was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” she said. “It was such an amazing experience.”
Getting to meet, and spend time with the other GoalKeepers, she said, was equally amazing.
“It was cool hearing all the different accents and hearing how other people talk. All of the girls were extremely nice and super loving, and even though we didn’t all speak the same language, we all became very good friends,” she said, adding that she keeps in touch with some of the other girls via Instagram and Snapchat. “We talk almost on a daily basis.”
In addition to meeting the Manchester United players and other GoalKeepers from throughout the globe, Cashman said the experience has taught her some valuable life lessons.
The workshop component of the trip, which included relationship workshops, innovation workshops and creativity workshops, taught her how to work with a diverse group of people, many of whom didn’t speak the same language, to achieve a common goal.
“Out of this whole experience, and especially through the workshops, I’ve learned that if you stay on path and keep your goals in mind, you can do anything,” she said. “If you believe in yourself anything can happen.”
— Margie M. Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.