PHOENIX - An Arizona soccer star has found a new passion after leaving the field: being a foster mom.
Nicole Acosta went from playing to coaching to teaching, but now she's taken on what she calls her most important role. She's a busy mother of two foster kids.
"During the pandemic, a commercial came on about fostering, and that's what got me into it," Acosta said. "So I did some research, did some training, and I've been doing it for about two years."
Two years ago, life was very different for Nicole.
"So I started out actually at Paradise Valley Community College, I played two years there then I actually tried out for ASU," Acosta said.
Her success at ASU as a starter on the women's soccer team led Nicole to another soccer field on South Mountain Community College where she coached. She eventually started teaching second-graders.
"I think it was kind of the calling," Acosta said. "I also lost my brother in 2011, so just kind of losing him, filling that emptiness…going into coaching and then teaching, I was able to feel a sense of purpose and happiness that I kind of lost when I lost my brother.
"Doing that, it was a calling…to go into fostering… I felt whole again," she said.
Nicole says the need for foster parents and the joy it brings her is the reason she is encouraging others to do the same. The process of becoming a foster parent takes a few months of training but the love you can offer a child in need lasts a lifetime, she said.
"I got a little girl and she came to me, went through a lot of different things," she explained. "Her mom…was homeless, she didn't have a job but within months her mom got back on her feet and heard the little girl actually ended up getting reunified with her mom.
"That's been very rewarding and fulfilling, and it shows me that families blend as well. Family is not just blood," Acosta said.
Currently, there are around 1,900 children in Arizona living in a congregate care setting.
Learn more about fostering a child in Arizona: https://dcs.az.gov/fostereffect
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