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How a CCRC Became a Home for 2 Professional Soccer Players

by Published On: May 30, 2013
Washington Spirit Players
Robyn Gayle and Diana Matheson at Ingleside

Robyn Gayle and Diana Matheson have more going for them than most 20-year-olds.

They’re starring teammates on the Washington Spirit, the professional soccer team in the nation’s capital.

They both won bronze medals for Canada during the 2012 Olympics. 

They have a nicer apartment than anyone they know. 

And that apartment comes with 350 “extra” grandparents.

Despite their young age, Gayle and Matheson are living at Ingleside at King Farm, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and LeadingAge member in Rockville, MD.

An Experiment in Intergenerational Living

The 2 soccer stars share a 2-bedroom suite measuring 1,800-square-feet. Amenities include a weekly cleaning service, a meal plan, an indoor poor, free parking and access to planned activities.

And, as if that wasn't enough, their rent is on the house for this year’s entire 5-month soccer season.

“This is a win-win for the athletes and for our community,” says Ingleside Executive Director Marilyn Leist. “The hospitality we extend to these young women is also an important part of fulfilling our social accountability as a not-for-profit organization.”

It was Steve Gurney’s idea to move Gayle and Matheson to Ingleside. Gurney, the publisher of Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook, found out that the Spirit organization was searching for temporary housing on short notice. So he asked Leist if Ingleside would open its doors to the players.

Intergenerational living isn’t new to Gurney. He lived in several retirement communities in 2008 so he could gain a better understanding of the challenges his readers face.

“When you hear ‘retirement community,’ your mind swings to ‘nursing home,’” Gurney told The Washington Post. “A lot of people are scared to walk into such a place. But it’s a great opportunity to look at senior living and break the age segregation.”

Residents vs. Soccer Players: Tied for Benefits

Ingleside residents couldn’t be happier with the arrangement.

One resident made throw pillows for Gayle and Matheson after they arrived at Ingleside this Spring. Others regularly drop off tasty treats with their new neighbors. And all residents are generous with high-5s and other words of encouragement when they meet the soccer players in the CCRC’s hallways.

Those high-5s may soon take place in the Maryland SoccerPlex, where Gayle and Matheson play their home games. As part of the housing deal, the Spirit will provide Ingleside residents and staff with 20 tickets to each of the Spirit’s 11 regular season home games. The club will distribute an additional 300 tickets for a designated game late in the season.

Residents are excited at the prospect of seeing their new neighbors in action. But they’ve already been well rewarded for their hospitality, says Leist.

“I see relationships develop, and it’s a beautiful thing when young people can embrace it as a positive,” she told The Washington Post.

Gayle and Matheson know that Ingleside residents are glad to have them. But that doesn’t keep the girls from being convinced that they got the better end of the Spirit-Ingleside deal. Their walk-in closet is bigger than some of the bedrooms they’ve occupied. And they’ve met so many residents that they have to study the CCRC’s resident directory just to keep the names straight.

“Whether they were doctors or homemakers, they all have these incredible life stories — about themselves, their children, their grandchildren,” Gayle said. “It’s just so enriching for us.”

“There are some amazing people here,” agrees Matheson.

 



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