By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
Soccer has always been a part of Gabby Schriver’s life.
“I first got into soccer when I was about 4 years old,” Schriver said. “I have an older brother and we did everything together, and that included lots of sports.”
Starting with soccer at a young age and playing into college, the Oxford Township resident became the goalkeeper for the Detroit City Football Club (DCFC) women’s team after taking some time off to focus on her master’s degree and career.
“I missed [soccer] way too much, so I started training again,” Schriver said. “DCFC was creating this women’s semipro team and I tried out. From there on out it is all I can kind of think about.”
Schriver joined the team for its inaugural 2020 season in United Women’s Soccer (UWS), which saw the Hamtramck-based team play without the club’s notoriously lively supporters due to COVID-19. The 2021 saw the team finish third in the Midwest North division.
“I do not know what I would do without soccer,” Schriver said. “It is what I look forward to every single day. I kind of balance my job working with kids with autism, and then I will go train, and then I will go work some more. It gives me a lot of fulfillment.”
2022 brings a new era for DCFC. As the men’s side promoted into the United Soccer League (USL) Championship — a professional league a tier below Major League Soccer (MLS) — the women moved into the USL-W league.
“I am glad that we joined [USL-W],” Schriver said. “The UWS was a great league … but I think this year allows the club to take its next steps for people who want to be a little more serious about soccer and not just drop in and play in the summer. I really appreciate that aspect of it, and I know the competition level is going to be really high, which makes it that much more fun. So I am excited to be a part of this new league.”
Outside of her time with DCFC, Schriver works with children with autism as a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). Schriver recently combined both of her passions to launch First Pick Sports.
“First Pick Sports is a company that is designed to help children with special needs achieve their fullest potential through sport,” Schriver said. “It is designed not to just have kids come to a field and kick a ball together, but we are actually going to break down these skills. We are going to work on social skills within the sport, taking turns, winning and losing [and] making friends.”
First Pick Sports runs a spring soccer league from April 8 to June 10, meeting on weekends at Seymour Lake Township Park’s Rose Ann MacGuire Memorial Soccer Facility to play soccer and learn various skills.
“Our motto is that every kid deserves a chance to be picked first, because a lot of times you will see kids with special needs that have all this potential and it is hard for people to see that sometimes,” Schriver said. “We are trying to flip that narrative and show that anyone can play soccer.”
Schriver is applying her skills developed as a soccer player and BCBA to create a program that provides a form of therapy through athletics.
“I am going to use the scientific principles of [applied behavioral analysis (ABA)] to teach sports,” Schriver said. “It is using research-based treatment for special needs and combining it with another element of fun to help these kids not only have a good time, but also learn some new skills while they are having fun.”
More information on First Pick Sports can be found at firstpicksports.com. Schriver will return to the pitch with DCFC for the USL-W season opener on Saturday, May 7 for a 7:30 p.m. match against Kalamazoo FC. Tickets can be bought at tickets.detcityfc.com and WMYD TV20 will provide televised coverage.
By Dean Vaglia