ETSU women’s soccer team honors local cancer patient

Published 8:43 am Thursday, August 29, 2019

The East Tennessee State University women’s soccer team added Ava Corum as an honorary member of the Buccaneer roster for Wednesday night’s home game versus USC Upstate inside Summers-Taylor Stadium.

Corum is a nine-year old Tri-Cities native who has been diagnosed with Stage III Germ Cancer. Corum, an avid soccer fan and player in Elizabethton’s youth leagues, joined Buccaneers’ starting lineup and participated as a ball girl during the match on Wednesday.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to honor and support Ava on Wednesday night,” said ETSU head coach Adam Sayers. “Ava’s bravery and courage during this difficult time is incredibly inspiring. Ava and her family are a big part of the soccer community in East Tennessee. We were extremely proud to have them with us for the game. Circumstances like this can provide context and perspective as to how the game of soccer, and sports in general, can bring people together and show us all what is really important in life. Ava is definitely #ETSUTough and #morethanagame. I want to give special thanks to Joanne Spalding for her work in bringing this together.”

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The Corum family appreciated all of the support from the community and the ETSU women’s soccer program.

“We have been overwhelmed at the response from our community and support for our family during this time as we deal with our child’s cancer,” said Casey Wagner, Ava’s stepmother. “Ava’s spirits have been lifted on so many occasions by the love we are receiving from our people.

“In particular, the ETSU women’s soccer team has showed up for Ava in a huge way. Some of the women attended and helped with her birthday party over the weekend and were truly delightful to be around. As a soccer player, Ava was thrilled for the opportunity to be involved in the game Wednesday evening and has been empowered by the support of the ETSU community. It is really moving to see the lengths that good people will go in order to improve a sick child’s experience. We are so thankful that the ETSU Athletics program is in touch with members of the community and is willing to be a part of the journey of kids with cancer.”

Corum is scheduled to have the tumor, which is located in her abdomen, removed on Friday, Sept. 6, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. For more information on Ava’s journey, please visit