Carryn Owens is one of the thousands of people who return to the North American Sand Soccer Championship every year, although the 2017 event proved a particularly poignant affair for her.
Owens’ daughter plays every year in the event with Beach FC but this year, following the passing of her husband, Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens, she decided to coach her girl as part of the Red Reign team. Ryan was killed in January 2017, as part of a US mission in Yemen.
Wearing special commemorative jerseys, and with a determination to make their late husband and father proud, Owens and her daughter took to the sand eager to commemorate Ryan in appropriate fashion.
“Every day he’s a part of our lives. It’s about the girls this weekend but obviously we think of him every single day,” Owens explained to Beach Soccer Worldwide in Virginia Beach.
“My daughter already played with this team throughout the year at Beach FC so we’ve been at all the games with them and, when we planned on playing sand soccer this weekend, [club official] Carlton made these shirts because Ryan will never be forgotten.
“The whole Beach FC club has been amazing - for instance they have used the USA socks all season long, and had special bracelets for my daughter.
“But it’s about the girls this weekend really, I know Ryan is watching them from above and just wants them to do well. We were avid sports goers and he’ll always be with us in spirit.”
Beach FC, who form part of the thriving beach soccer scene in the region, regularly enter a host of teams in the NASSC and, mirroring Ryan’s philosophy, Owens is eager to continue with that despite his death.
“Yeah we put a team together each year, it’s sometimes a different group of girls but we have a huge soccer presence here,” she added.
“I’ve always wanted to coach my daughter and that was the plan even before Ryan was killed. That’s why we’re pushing forward and it’s why we want to live his legacy, which was to live every day and dominate on the sports field.
“We do what we do for him, to try and make him proud.”