University of Rhode Island women’s soccer player and Mapleville, Rhode Island, native, Taylor Ross, is the name behind a non-profit organization called Cleats Count, which she founded last winter to do her part to help underprivileged youths.

Following the winter of her freshman season at URI, Ross, now a sophomore, came to the sad realization that many student-athletes go through: the end nearing for a beloved sport. As Ross dreamed about what the future entails, she began to focus on formulating an idea that correlates with her love for soccer and other passions.

“I wanted to do something where I can keep soccer in my life, and make others happy in the process,” Ross said. “Helping out others who are far less fortunate, along with my passion for business, marketing and philanthropy is the driving force behind my organization.”

Cleats Count is an organization that is bringing soccer cleats to kids ages 5-18, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this upcoming April. When Ross first created it, she knew that one of her goals was to travel to a Third World Country and it became a reality after collecting the necessary amount of cleats and donations. The glaring issues Ross faced were what country to choose and who would be the non-profit sponsor to help bring Ross’s lofty vision for Cleats Count to life.

“My mom called me one day, and said someone she works with is involved with the Ordinary Hero Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that takes mission trips often,” Ross said. “I got in touch with the people in charge and explained to them what I wanted to accomplish with Cleats Count.”

During the phone call, the woman Ross spoke to expressed her interest in having Ross bring Cleats Count along with them to Ethiopia. The Ordinary Hero Foundation was already planning to hold a grand opening of a soccer field that they financed. It was fate for both parties. The trip is planned to be six days long with more philanthropic events included.

“During the trip there is a headquarters where we will be staying, and on top of delivering the cleats we will be painting houses, spending time teaching the kids and helping to clean the community,” Ross said.

URI women’s soccer head coach Michael Needham heard about Cleats Count and did his part to help reach out to every Atlantic 10 opponent’s coaching staff for donations. Boston College responded by sending back a box of cleats for Ross to add to her collection. As a personal touch, anyone who donates a pair of cleats or financial sum will have their name written down for the cleat delivery. Each pair comes with an attached name tag for the kids who could find solace in the fact that there are people like Ross and her donors that are working toward a wonderful cause. Anyone who would like to donate cleats or help Ross reach her goal of $3,500 can visit her page on

“My goal, besides bringing happiness to these children, is to show my peers and anyone who sees what I am doing, that we are all capable of giving back and helping others,” Ross said.