A Georgia girl with a bright smile and an infectious spirit beat seventh graders from around the country in an essay writing contest held by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Jyniah Desameau, who plays youth soccer with Coast Outreach Soccer in Brunswick, GA, wrote about how soccer helped her find a sports family and overcome challenges.
The theme of the essay was: "What inspires you to keep playing?"
"Soccer has changed my life so much, and I feel like a better person every day," she wrote, according to an excerpt shared by the foundation. "At the end of every season I feel that I matter and that all of my hard work has paid off. I go home with a vast smile on my face, knowing I'm part of something special."
Her coach, Shawn Williams, told 11Alive her spirit is infused throughout the team and :helps all the other girls enjoy the game."
"She has a very bubbly, warm personality that invites everyone," Williams said. "If you meet her, you can't help but just enjoy being in her company."
Williams said Jyniah's mother passed away last December, and that her resilient spirit is an inspiration even to the adults around her.
"Just how to deal with adversity at such a young age," he said.
For winning the contest, Jyniah will get to go to New York City in October for the foundation's annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala, where she'll get to meet leading women in sport including the organization's founder, Billie Jean King.