A writer and illustrator with deep roots in the game craft a story for soccer’s future stars.
In 2017 Sam Cronin—not to be confused with her husband and former MLS All-Star Sam Cronin—wrote the initial manuscript for Leave a Little More, a children’s book with a nucleus of soccer and empowering the everyday decisions we make.
“I think when I was writing the book I was talking to myself just as much as anyone else. You don’t have to be doing something so obviously great in order to be making an impact,” said Cronin.
The seed for the story was planted for Sam (the author) after the Cronins moved to Denver when Sam (the player), an MLS veteran and Hermann Award finalist at Wake Forest, was traded from San Jose to the Colorado Rapids on January 19th, 2015. Sam had been in advertising for most of her life and had worked for Google in the Bay Area, but she seized on the new start to step away from the field and emphasize a desire to expand her creative margins.
She joined a literary agency on a part-time basis in Denver while attending writing workshops, one of which spawned the manuscript.
“The message is really just about empowering children to see the value in everyday choices they are already making and understanding everything you do leaves the world a little bit different.” No less a pundit than Clint Dempsey agrees:
“Small choices can make all the difference. That’s something I learned in my career on and off the field. My wife and I try to instill that in our 5 kids. This book is a great reminder that every day matters and every choice does too.”
After two seasons with Colorado, the Rapids traded Cronin’s husband to Minnesota three games into the 2017 season. She admitted progression for Leave a Little More halted while in Minneapolis and it was not until post-MLS life for her family when the book began to blossom.
Her friend and partner in print Tacey Hesmer significantly supplemented Leave a Little More through her artwork. Hesmer, like Cronin, was married to an MLS veteran and former Wake Forest soccer star William Hesmer. While husbands Sam and William never played on the same squads in MLS, the tight bond of MLS families and Wake Forest alumni formed a friendship between the writer and artist. Moreover, both families ended up in Raleigh.
“We started getting together throughout 2020, on her back porch, drinking wine, and trying to stay sane. Socially distanced, we connected and I shared this manuscript I had written…her eyes lit up. She had illustrated one other picture book before,” exclaimed Cronin.
The project started with no mention of major publishers, websites, or partnering with foundations. “We made this book for our kids to read. We thought that would just be a cool thing right there,” Sam says.
As time progressed in Raleigh, Cronin and Hesmer realized this could be bigger than something to share with their own children.
“This brings us joy. If it brings one more person joy, that’s great.”
Having experience on the internal side of publishing companies, Cronin reached an agreement with a Mascot Books’ Kids imprint in early 2022. Beyond that, Cronin and Leave A Little More found a partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which will receive a portion of all proceeds. Chris Wondolowski approves:
“The fact that a portion of all profits from the book will go directly to supporting the amazing work that the U.S. Soccer Foundation is doing to reach kids in underserved communities is an awesome example of putting that message into action. Every family should have a copy of this book on their shelves.”
“We’re trying to empower kids to live more inspired, healthy, confident lives,” Cronin says. “Their vehicle is through the sport of soccer, ours is through the story.”
The book is available to purchase directly from the Leave a Little More website:
Purchasing online straight from Cronin and Hesmer will allow for a greater portion to be donated to the US Soccer Foundation, but if you want to buy from Amazon here.