CHICAGO — Youth players from CP Soccer, a U.S. Soccer member organization that provides opportunities for players nationwide with cerebral palsy, a stroke or traumatic brain injury, have been named the 2020 U.S. Soccer players of the year with a disability.

Soccer was impacted at every level by the COVID-19 pandemic and programming for players with disabilities was especially hard hit. With seasons interrupted and in-person gatherings suspended, a dedicated group of CP Soccer youth players came together virtually five days a week for 11 weeks during the height of stay-at-home orders in the United States.

CP Soccer delivered more than 100 hours of training, led by director Ashley Hammond and his son Shea Hammond, a player on the U.S. 7-a-side national team.

“When you look at all the athletes with disabilities that have previously won this award, it makes you realize how special it is. Every day this year during COVID, Shea and I got to work with so many special CP Soccer players. It’s clear that they’re so deserving of this award,” Ashley Hammond said in a statement. “I don’t know many able-bodied teams that trained five times a week during the pandemic, but we had hundreds of kids from every corner of the country putting in work every day throughout the shutdown. Shea and I are overwhelmed and grateful to U.S. Soccer for its support and we’re so happy for the players who have worked so hard and continue to work hard during these crazy times.”

An average of more than 30 kids a day participated during the program’s main 11-week run, with a peak of 138 participants. Boys and girls from age four to 18 were joined by a star-studded list of U.S. Soccer guests, including president Cindy Parlow Cone, men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter and USMNT forward Jordan Morris.

The program culminated in two global tournaments via Zoom that drew hundreds of participants and thousands of viewers. Most recently, CP Soccer hosted a virtual training for all disciplines of disability soccer as part of the federation’s U.S. disability soccer month. Players from all 50 states joined the special Zoom session.

Player of the year with a disability was first awarded in 2012, with deaf women’s national team player Felicia Schroeder receiving the honor. Votes for U.S. Soccer player of the year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2020, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches, select college coaches and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches, select media members and former players and administrators.