Jessica can see it all clearly now. Everything that was supposed to be dependable in her childhood … wasn’t. Her mom was in and out of prison. Her father was nowhere to be seen. An attempted adoption fell through and five-year-old Jessica was placed into foster care.

Over the next seven years, she was moved between foster families, a group home and brief stays with out-of-state relatives. Even after she was placed in a relatively stable home at age 12, Jessica struggled. She turned to drugs and began sneaking out of the house.

Coach Mickey Paige stepped into Jessica’s life just as she was about to age out of the foster system. Mickey helped her realize how much she had overcome in her life, which allowed her to turn toward the future. “We talked about my passions and what I was good at. Nobody had ever asked me that before. He’s showed me that college really could be in my future.” Today, Jessica is an honors student at Central Virginia Community College. She plans to transfer to Old Dominion University to study criminal justice with a focus on juvenile detention. “I don’t want to end up like my parents. I can use the negatives in my life to help kids who are in the probation system today. Maybe I can make a difference.”