Goal-oriented: Annual Hope Cup Soccer Tournament champions inclusion

Students in front of Hope Cup sign

More than 600 students with special needs showcased their soccer skills and sportsmanship at the annual Hope Cup Soccer Tournament, turning a regular school day at Hope School in Buena Park into a celebration of community and inclusion.

The event, which took place on Friday, April 19, drew support from a robust team of over 250 volunteers. They included ASB directors and their students from various campuses in the Anaheim Union High School District, the boys soccer team from Anaheim High School, and groups like Oxford Friends 4 Hope and Kennedy High’s sports medicine program.

Students playing soccer

Community partners such as Los Angeles Football Club, Mega 96.3 KXOL, L.A. Galaxy, Jump O’Rama Party Rentals and Orange County Soccer Club also rallied support, kicking in resources and enthusiasm.

Organizers emphasized the significant role of sports as a vehicle for fostering a sense of belonging and purpose among students. Being part of a team not only builds confidence, it opens doors to forming new friendships.

The first Hope Cup took place in 2015, drawing 44 teams from 16 schools across the Anaheim Union High School District. Since then, the event has expanded to 61 teams, providing an opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate teamwork, athletic skills, school spirit and the love of the game.

Kathryn Cerasuolo, an adapted P.E. teacher at Hope School, said Hope Cup was her favorite day of the year, adding that it’s one of the reasons she chose her career path.

“Seeing the joy on their faces, as well as on the faces of their parents and members of the community, is something that solidifies why sports is such an essential part of the school experience,” she said. “It makes me proud to be a part of the AUHSD family.”

Students playing soccer
Mascot in front of Hope Cup sign