ST CHARLES, Mo. — Sometimes, what happens on the sidelines can be even more important than what happens on the field.
That was the case recently for the improving St. Dominic boys soccer team.
"We're led by some great seniors and they're learning a lot," said head soccer coach Greg Koeller.
Since 2000, the Crusaders have won five state titles. And if that wasn't enough motivation, they have players who provide inspiration. Like No. 2, Clay North.
"Clay is just an outstanding leader for our team," Koeller said. "He gives everything whenever we call on him and he's ready to give everything he has."
To get ready for this game, Clay wasn't just focused on his foot skills but his charitable skills as well.
"So we've been selling shirts for the past three weeks," North explained. "And we're doing a 50-50 raffle on top of our silent auction, which we have items from Duke University, a signed basketball from Coach K."
It all started with Clay's Senior Service Project. Every senior at St. Dominic must complete a project that helps others in need. And Clay decided to make it personal.
"As a mom, I was amazed," said Lori North. "It made me feel just very proud of him that his heart would be in that place."
That place was with his uncle Sam, who passed away in 2015.
"I just didn't do enough for him in those last days. And I regret it," Clay said.
Keep in mind, Clay was just 14 at the time and probably couldn't even pronounce Glioblastoma. The aggressive type of brain cancer his uncle had.
"It was terrible. It was, it's awful to see someone that you love just turn into somebody that you don't know," recalled Lori North.
But brain cancer didn't just affect Clay's immediate family, it affected his soccer family as well.
Coach Koeller lost his wife Marcia in 2009.
"She loved children and we had four children and all of them were in grade school at the time of her diagnosis. And it was devastating," he said.
So, Clay poured himself into raising money for Angels Among Us, an organization that supports brain tumor research and education.
While he was dribbling and passing, his volunteers were selling. And selling.
Clay set a goal of raising $2,000 but at halftime he presented a check for five times that.
"This is one of the best things I've ever done in my entire life," Clay said. "I think it's honored my uncle in ways that I'd never thought I could."
Weeks before final exams, Clay North has passed a test of character.
This was one night where you didn't need the scoreboard. Thanks to one young man, the clear winner was cancer research.