Writer: Marcus Carr
Winning seven national championships and a gold medal at the World Cup is no easy feat. Case Calvert, 30, has played power soccer for 12 years, while dealing with a rare disease that occurs in 1 of 3,500 male births worldwide.
The first signs of the disease began young, being unable to balance, randomly falling down and fatigue in his legs after activities. Calvert was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of eight. Duchenne is a fatal disease that causes muscle degeneration and is one of the nine types of muscular dystrophy that comes with a life expectancy around the age of 26 years old.
Growing up in Indianapolis, Ind. (IN) he lived a typical childhood, playing sports, being involved in extracurricular activities and enjoying time with his older brother, Christiaan. Despite Case having a physical disability, they created a bond like most siblings, teasing each other, spending time together and attending school at Lutheran High School together.
“He [Christiaan] never really treated me like I had a disability, he acted like any other brother, maybe he roughed me up sometimes but it was what typical brothers do,” said Case. “Being so close in age let me create a close bond with him and also some of his friends.”
Calvert was also member of band and choir, playing the clarinet until high school then, following his brother’s footsteps and switching to the alto saxophone. Participating in many different school activities he was also involved with the church, where his Christian faith was and still is a significant part of his life.
“My faith was an important part of growing up.” said Calvert.
After high school, Calvert decided to stay close to home and attend Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis or better known to Indiana locals as IUPUI. While studying at IUPUI, he pursued a degree within the Herron School of Art and Design. The college experience was not a typical one for Case, having to commute to school and being in a wheelchair limited the full college experience. Both inside and outside the classroom he faced obstacles which restricted him from doing all the physical demands within some courses. Not one to get discouraged easily, Calvert used it as motivation to find a way to finish the task at hand.
While pursuing his degree at IUPUI, Calvert was introduced to power soccer, which is now the fastest growing wheelchair sport. With the misconception that it wasn’t a real sport and that everybody received participation trophies, he put joining the sport off for nearly two years. And then, he took the court, he instantly knew he had made the right decision.
“As soon as I played, I fell in love with it.” said Calvert.
The feeling of being able to get out on the court and play on his own was one of the key moments for Case to continue the sport. Playing power soccer brought Case back to his childhood of playing sports and being active, but now he felt after being in a wheelchair, he could do anything he set his mind to. Now, competing for 12 years, his team, the Circle City Rollers Power Soccer Club, has won seven national championships and is currently chasing a three peat after winning in 2016 and 2017. In 2009, Calvert decided to try out for the United States Power Soccer team, after making the team, he trained with them for two years. Meanwhile, Calvert graduated from Herron School of Art and Design in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication, marking one of the big accomplishments in his life because he “didn’t know if that was going to happen.”
In 2011 the U.S. team traveled to Paris, France to play in the World Cup. In the gold medal game, Calvert “made his claim to fame” by scoring the final goal to secure the win for the United States over England with a score of 3-0. This was another major accomplishment in Calvert’s life.
Power soccer has been instrumental in Calvert’s life, boosting his character and his confidence. This newfound confidence pushed him try new things such as driving, it took the better part of a year to master and get his driver’s license. He drives a custom vehicle with two joysticks with all the features of other vehicles on the road.
“Without soccer, I don’t think I would have done what I have done.” Calvert said.
Not only did power soccer open the door to earning his license, but Calvert is now six weeks away from marrying his girlfriend of two years, Rebecca. Like most soon-to-be grooms, he is nervous yet excited to be getting married. “It is a great feeling finding someone who loves me despite my disability,” he said. As expected his best men will be his brother, Christiaan, and a dear friend, Jacob, who he sees as a second brother.
Case & fiancé Rebecca
Despite the disability, Case Calvert is living his life to the fullest and hopes by accomplishing many milestones to influence through his creative ability and shape people’s lives with the impact of his story. Calvert’s advice to the 300,000 people worldwide with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, “Count your blessings,” he said “it is not about what you can’t do, it is about what you can do.”