Soccer player wins Girl Scout Gold Award, inspired by teammate

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A Gold Award is a big deal.

Helix Highlander Sarah Mauricio would know – she became one of only 58 girl scouts in San Diego to earn hers in 2018.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting with fewer than 10 percent of scouts attaining it nationally. It is given to Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership by addressing social issues through Take Action projects.

A Gold Award is a big deal.

Helix Highlander Sarah Mauricio would know – she became one of only 58 girl scouts in San Diego to earn hers in 2018.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting with fewer than 10 percent of scouts attaining it nationally. It is given to Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership by addressing social issues through Take Action projects.

Mauricio joined fellow East County-based Girl Scouts Jennifer Fox, Megan Lee, Amelia Sperry, Sadie Neville, Megan St. John, Madeleine West, Sydney Brown and Alice Dizaye in claiming her award, which she earned by creating an educational presentation for athletes on osteosarcoma and giving it to seven different groups of people across San Diego.

“After working on it for so long, it was nice to think ‘oh I completed this,’” said Mauricio, a Helix High School student and varsity soccer player. “Having it done felt really good. I felt accomplished.”

Completing the project was an enormous venture, said Mauricio’s mother Melanie, one which took time away from both academics and athletics.

“It was school, sports and gold award for probably three months solid,” Melanie Mauricio said. “It’s probably one of the biggest projects she’ll ever do.”

Mauricio has been a part of the La Mesa Girl Scout Troop 6456 since kindergarten. Only one other girl from her year completed the Gold Project.

The inspiration for Mauricio’s project came from her friend and club soccer teammate Sam. Mauricio began playing soccer at three years old, joined AYSO at 10 and now plays both with a club team and with the Helix Highlanders.

She sits comfortably with her mom, hair braided and ready for practice later, and tells the story of Sam, soccer and of Mauricio’s own personal beginnings with the Gold Award.

“Sam was on my soccer team for three years, and her ankle was swollen for a while and after one of the tournaments her mom decided it had been long enough and they needed to get it checked out by a doctor,” said Mauricio. “So they took an MRI and the reading wasn’t right, so after more tests they found out it was osteosarcoma in her tibia. So she had to go through chemotherapy and had her leg amputated and now she’s cancer free.”

But “cancer free” is only the ending line of a very long story for Sam.

“It was very inspiring because she was always in such a good attitude,” said Mauricio. “She was always smiling and happy to talk, she always just thought of the positive sides of it.”

Melanie Mauricio said Sam’s journey had a huge impact on her daughter.

“We would go see her at the hospital frequently, when she lost her hair, when she lost her leg, when she got her prosthetic leg,” she said. “It was definitely a journey for her, but also for Sarah that ‘oh, this can happen to one of my friends.’”

Armed with the knowledge that this kind of bone cancer affect anyone and the firsthand testimony that it can be overcome, Mauricio set out to educate others.

“Sam actually helped me with it,” said Mauricio. “We recorded two different videos for it. It was pretty fun because I got to see her more and not just at the hospital or soccer. She’s a fun person to be around.”

Mauricio presented to a Boy Scout troop in Chula Vista, La Mesa middle school and Girl Scout troops around the county. She gave pre- and post-tests to assess knowledge and comprehension of the subject and made care packages which were donated to Kaiser children’s ward.

The binder Mauricio eventually turned in for approval of her Gold Award is massive, a complete documentation of her work and findings over the year it took her to put everything together.

Mauricio’s neighbor Karen Boelter said the high school senior has a lot to be proud of.

“She’s very humble about her accomplishments and I don’t think she realizes how big her accomplishments are,” said Boelter. “There are so many people out there who would not have done what she did.”

Boelter said that the cold-calling to schedule presentations and then speak in front of strangers, on top of the work it takes to put together something of this nature, is a great skill.

“She gave her presentation to our son’s boy scout troop,” said Boelter. “She had a little Q&A part where you fill out the questionnaire and it kind of reflected that they did learn some of the material about osteosarcoma and how that affects people and athletes. She did a great job on her presentation. That’s not Sarah’s comfort zone, speaking in front of people like that.

“This has really helped her grow in that department speaking in front of people and making contact with people – just the number of people she had to get in touch with just to make her entire Gold Award happen.”

Mauricio is the kind of kid everyone wants in their neighborhood.

“She’s pretty easy going, she’s very driven and she definitely has a vision for where she wants to be and what she needs to do to get there,” said Boelter. “She’s a great kid. Very loving with her family and a high-achiever and very friendly to all of us in the neighborhood.”

According to her Helix soccer coach Jeffery Kepper, she is as much a leader on her soccer team as she is in the Girl Scouts.

“She’s been on the varsity team the last two years,” said Kepper. “She doesn’t start a lot of the games and for some people that might give them attitude, but she’s super dedicated. She always comes with a really positive attitude. I think not being a starter, with us, I think it’s harder for her to think that she can speak up, but she leads by her actions. She’s always working hard.”

The Scotties are 9-1 in their season right now.

With the Gold Award behind her, and on her college transcripts, Mauricio said she is looking to the future. She is applying to colleges and hopes to attend Rice University in Houston, Texas or Stanford University, California.

“Definitely, some of the things I’ve learned will help me,” she said. “My communications skills have improved. I had to learn how to speak in front of groups of people.”

Mauricio said she would encourage other Girl Scouts to complete their Gold Award.

“I think it’s a big accomplishment in general,” she said. “Most projects have a big impact on the community, on other people.”

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