A team of middle school girls with a Council Bluffs soccer club are “paying it forward” the rest of this season in remembrance of Mollie Tibbetts.
Jennifer Kvammen and her daughter, Mackenzie, are part of soccer club Reign. They are also related to Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old Brooklyn woman who vanished while out for a run in the east-central Iowa town of Brooklyn on July 18.
Her body was found in a cornfield in August, and the suspect in her death has been charged with murder.
Initially, Reign Coach Ryan Osborn and several parents from the team wanted to show support for Mackenzie and her mother, so they decided to make custom shirts for the team in honor of Tibbetts.
Proceeds from the shirt sales were donated to Tibbetts’ family, designated to the scholarship created in her name. Once the shirts were revealed to Kvammen and her daughter, the team wanted to do more, according to Stacy Nelson, a parent of one of the players.
On Sunday, the team gave the opposing team water bottles and oranges, sharing kindness cards that hallmarked Tibbetts and encouraged each player to pay it forward through #TheMollieMovement.
“The girls are learning how a bad situation can turn good, and they are learning that kindness spreads kindness,” said Jennifer Fischer, another parent on the team. “It takes the emphasis off the way she died and puts it on the way she lived — it shows them they can be young and still make an impact.”
The Mollie Movement encourages people to commit acts of kindness toward others and pay it forward if something nice was done for them. The cards can be printed from the movement’s Facebook page.
Reign plans to continue paying it forward for the rest of the season to reach more people. Individually, the girls have taken kindness cards to school among teachers, friends and family members in the Council Bluffs, Treynor and Tri-Center school areas, passing on Tibbetts’ legacy.
During the game on Sunday, Fischer said the opposing coach was moved by Reign’s kindness efforts and complimented the team.
“The game ended 0-0, and he said that she was a supreme goalie and that she did an awesome job. He probably would have never came over and talked to her, but because of what we did, he stepped out. That’s how the girls are learning that kindness spreads kindness.”
Reign has eight more games before the season ends, not counting tournaments. The team plans to distribute more cards and acts of kindness to opposing teams.
“We have tournaments in Sioux City and Des Moines, so we will take kindness cards into those places and give gifts to those teams and hopefully it will keep spreading even further,” Fischer said.
An effort to support a grieving team member and her mother became an effort to spread kindness on the field and outside of the field.
“We want to be supportive of the two people on our team who lost someone,” Fischer said. “I didn’t know Mollie, but I look at Mackenzie, and she looks like she must be just like Mollie, her smile and kindness are contagious. Let’s keep spreading that.”