WELLESLEY, Mass. — From the soccer field to the sidelines interviewing professional soccer players, Radley Theolien is setting high goals for himself and scoring them as well.
“I just love sports in general. I just love being out there. Putting myself out there,” Radley told Boston 25′s Heather Hegedus recently while kicking the soccer ball around at his school, Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley.
His favorite position on the field is forward because he says he likes to be able to “create opportunities and to be able to pass the ball to everyone.”
While playing for Mass Bay and attending classes, Radley takes several trains and a bus to school, which takes him two hours, each way, from his Dorchester home.
And similarly, his journey to get here has taken a lot of dedication.
Radley was a METCO student in Needham. He has a neurodevelopmental disorder, as well as ADHD, dyslexia and he suffers from mental health challenges.
“He certainly has more than his fair share of difficulties, but thankfully, in spite of his challenges, Radley has never lost his positive attitude,” said Yardley Theolien, Radley’s mom. “Radley is truly a good person. He is an inspiration for me. You know, the fact that he’s striving and he’s here is just an amazing story,” she said.
Radley has truly made his mark on the Mass Bay campus.
“Radley started our Unified Sports Basketball Club. Radley has also started a 2k NBA tournament and he’s basically the mayor here at Mass Bay. He’s in our gym everyday, he’s involved in everything,” said Adam Nelson, Mass Bay’s Athletic Director.
That “Unified Team” is through the Special Olympics.
Charles Hirsch is the AVP of Development, Brand & Marketing for the Special Olympics Massachusetts. He explains the Special Olympics Unified Sports brings athletes with and without disabilities together on the same playing field at the same time. “What we love about Unified Sports is it gives everybody the same opportunity of being on a team, working towards a goal and, regardless of your intellectual ability, what we really find is your playing ability shines through,” said Hirsch.
Radley is also an “All Star” on the New England Revolution Unified Team, and recently scored a goal in one of the Unified Rev’s games.
And Radley hosts his own sports headlines podcast... “The Rad Sports Talk Show” on Spotify — 3 days a week. A link to his podcast can be found here.
Radley says he looks up to players who are leaders: “My favorite player is Ronaldo, but for me, I’d have to say my role models are the people who believed in me: my mom my dad... because they were there in my darkest times and they were there in my moments where I didn’t have belief in myself. But I had faith in God and still continued to push through the tough times because there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hirsch says Radley “is passionate — and seemingly in all areas of his life. He loves soccer, he loves sports, and has taken on this kind of added role as a member of the team to share it on social media, and talk about it on his podcasts.”
Radley’s advice to others who have obstacles to overcome like he has?
“You can be strong physically, but in the head you better be mentally strong and know that if things aren’t going your way, it’s not the end of the story. You’ve gotta persevere through the darkest times. You just gotta know who you are, why you’re here, know your worth, what you’re doing and just have a dream and a vision. Not everyone’s going to see that vision that you have, but you’ve gotta push through,” Radley says.
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