NNU soccer team gifts letter of intent signing to 8-year-old Melba boy with brain cancer
NAMPA — Nighthawk soccer players cheered and clapped Thursday as they welcomed their newest teammate: 8-year-old Beckham Hoagland-Bice.
After finding out Beckham had potentially terminal brain cancer, Omar Sosa, a family friend and a Northwest Nazarene University soccer player, wanted to do something loving and supportive for him. Beckham said he wanted to be on a soccer team.
So, the men’s soccer team came together to make Beckham an honorary Nighthawk.
Beckham, of Melba, signed a letter of intent Thursday at the college. After the signing, he was given a red jersey and invited onto the indoor turf soccer field for his first practice with the team. Beckham enthusiastically kicked the ball, scoring a goal, and assisted his younger brother in scoring a goal of his own.
The team also gifted Beckham a Nighthawk T-shirt and a signed soccer ball.
“You could write pages about Beckham. He’s a great kid,” Sosa said after the practice. “He’s grown on me since I’ve known him, always making me laugh.
“To see something like this happen to him is rough,” Sosa continued. “But seeing him be happy really rubs off on you. If he’s smiling through the tough times, that shows we need to be happy and supportive.”
Just over a year ago, Beckham was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. The brain cancer is usually fatal. The family continues to stay positive through prayer and activities, as shown on the Brave Beckham DIPG Warrior Facebook page. NNU, Melba and other communities have put on events to show their support for Beckham and his family.
The practice was tiring for Beckham; his family requested not to be interviewed.
“It was a cool experience for our players to think outside themselves and see what other families are going through,” said Dane Manley, the assistant men’s soccer coach.
Manley also said when Sosa came to him with the idea of getting Beckham on campus to meet the team, he wasn’t surprised.
“This kind of thing defines him,” Manley said.
The coaches came up with the idea of signing Beckham, and the other players contributed ideas such as the signed soccer ball.
“This service happens around each of our lives,” Sosa said. “We do a lot of collective things as a team, (but) when I told the guys (about Beckham) I think it really hit home. It makes you re-evaluate, focus on what’s important. If anything the family has shown everyone at NNU to keep pushing when times get tough.”
Sosa also said he hopes people keep Beckham and his family in their prayers.
“I don’t know if the family knows how much this meant to us,” Sosa said. “Me, the coaches, the entire team, we are all thankful for Ali, grandma and the family for a chance to bring (Beckham) out here.”