Santa Barbara Quadruplets Make Good with College Commitments
From Their ‘Oprah’ Debut to Signing Day, the Goodmans Reflect on Their Journey
By Victor Bryant | April 28, 2022
Finding out she was pregnant with four children was a tough moment for Beth Goodman.
It was 2003, and Goodman was a single, 38-year-old floral designer living in Santa Barbara. Following a decade’s worth of unsuccessful pregnancy attempts, she decided to try to conceive one last time via in vitro fertilization. When she got the news that she was not only pregnant but expecting quadruplets, shock soon turned to dread.
“At the time, I did not see a path to saving my family, and a lot of people that I loved did not see a path either,” Goodman says today, nearly 19 years later. There were those who at the time believed raising quadruplets alone would be an impossible task, she said, and even that the family would be a burden to the state. “They were upset that I was maybe going to choose this impossible task and saddle them with responsibilities to buoy our lives.”
After a complicated pregnancy, Beth gave birth to quadruplets at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara on November 11, 2003, the day after her 39th birthday. Since their births — which attracted both local and national media attention at the time — siblings Luke, Cason, Barrett, and Laila Goodman have shared their lives together under the most unique of circumstances, overcoming trials and tribulations together. While the journey hasn’t been perfect, it has shaped four extraordinary young people, ready to take on the next chapter of their lives with the knowledge that they’ve already emerged triumphant.
All four siblings had the honor of participating in signing-day ceremonies at Santa Barbara High, committing to continue their athletic and academic endeavors at well-respected universities. Cason and Luke will be attending UC Davis and playing soccer, Barrett will play soccer at Western Washington University, and Laila will run track at NYU. As the quadruplets prepare to move on to adulthood, the Goodman family took time to reflect on how far they’ve come.
Under the Spotlight
Not long after her children’s birth, Beth Goodman’s story would become a media sensation and hot-button issue nationwide — predating by nearly six years the media circus surrounding the 2009 births of octuplets to Natalie Denise Suleman, a k a “Octomom,” and acting as a precursor of sorts to today’s culture wars.
Beth was determined to keep her family together and decided to leave no stone unturned to find solutions. In a Hail-Mary act of desperation, Beth sent a letter to Oprah Winfrey, seeking help through her crisis.
Six months after the quadruplets were born, Beth was on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and her family was politicized to the point where they were at times dehumanized, even before their appearance.
“The Oprah Show provided us a notoriety that helped polarize people into those who were for us and those who were against,” Beth said. “There was already a little bit of that, but that sort of became even bigger.”
Bill O’Reilly infamously commented: “Here’s a woman who’s 39 years old, obviously wants to have a child, okay — she’s unmarried. She doesn’t have the financial means to care for four babies, that’s for sure. So the taxpayers are going to have to pick it up. Why should I be paying for this woman’s children because she just wants to have them?”
Locally, the Santa Barbara News-Press published a series of stories about Beth’s pregnancy and the aftermath. When she was on bed rest during the latter stages of her pregnancy, people would show up with envelopes of money and bring them to her house on Castillo Street. Sometimes they would have Christian messages for her, and other times they would tell her they were on “Team Beth” with regard to the controversy her journey created.
“No one really knew, myself included, if I would be very good at [parenting] or if they would be healthy,” Beth said, alluding to the very real health concerns that come with birthing multiples for both mother and children. “This wouldn’t be the same story possibly if they were all born so premature that they had a lot of special needs and that sort of thing. Maybe this wouldn’t be the happy ending that it really seems to be right now, so I appreciate the fear that motivated a lot of people’s judgment.”
Fortunately, those health concerns did not translate into long-term obstacles, and Beth was left to focus on overcoming the challenges of daily life. Just enough help came, and the Goodmans made their way as a family. The love of her children was more than Beth could have imagined. The four small human beings brought clarity, as “What is the next right thing?” became a guiding principle in Beth’s life.
“I literally was so full of love that even [to] people that were totally against me, I would say, ‘It’s okay. You just didn’t know. Now hold this little person,’” Beth said. “Every day, I tell them, ‘Do you have any idea how you raised me? How you elevated my stock? How you informed me how to be a leader?’”
Beth’s experience in the public domain through her pregnancy and in the early years with her children set the stage for her children to embrace the challenges of life and become ferocious competitors on and off the field.
“We had a lot to prove to other people, in a way,” said Laila of how her mother’s experiences shaped her and her siblings.
‘The Next Right Thing’
The Goodmans moved from Santa Barbara to Yuma, Arizona, in September 2005, about two months before the children’s second birthday. Beth was in a long-distance relationship with a man from that area, and it made sense at the time for the family to relocate to be with him.
Beth had received her real estate license back in the ’80s but didn’t really immerse herself in it until she moved to Arizona. The Goodmans would spend the next six years in Arizona before returning to Santa Barbara, where Beth is now a successful Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. It was during their time in Arizona, though, that Luke, Cason, Barrett, and Laila were introduced to organized sports and gained an edge competing with each other.
“I didn’t think I was making them competitive, and some people would argue against that, but these kids will compete over who grew the most last month,” Beth said. “There is this friendly ‘I want to be taller; I want to be faster; I want to be smarter’ kind of thing.”
The athletic ability was always present in the Goodman children, and the journey into organized sports began organically. Barrett recalled Boy Scouts being their first choice for a recreational activity, though.
“I remember we were in the car, and we just left our house, and my mom was like, ‘Okay, guys, you can either go into Boy Scouts or you can go into soccer, and we chose Boy Scouts,’” Barrett said. “We quit after the first two days.”
“They had us doing arts and crafts, and we were like, ‘This isn’t Boy Scouts; this is art class,’” Cason added.
The boys got involved in American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) soccer first in Arizona and continued when they returned to Santa Barbara in September 2011, two months before they turned 8 years old. The three boys showed gradual improvement until they outgrew that level of play.
Beth remembers their final year of AYSO soccer, when they won the championship and then had tremendous success in All Stars.
“I told the kids it’s not always like this. I went out and got three shadow boxes that year for the boys to make a compilation of their ribbons and stuff,” Beth said. “Before I could put the shadow boxes together, they were winning again on their club team the next year.”
Beyond sports, Luke and Cason were involved in musical theater, and Laila did ballet. Despite her busy schedule, Beth could not deny her children the opportunity to pursue their passions, whatever they might be.
“I would also say that we’ve always just liked competition through the years,” Cason said. “Sometimes it’s annoying, especially when it’s coming from [my siblings], but for the most part, competition has just always been something that we enjoy, and it’s really quite easy to get that in sports.”
Everyone Is Good
The 2003 age group is loaded with soccer talent in the Santa Barbara area, which allowed the Goodman boys to hone their talent against other elite players and contribute to exceptional teams.
“When it comes down to it, this is one of the best age groups that has come out of Santa Barbara Soccer Club, without a doubt,” said Rudy Ybarra, who coaches the 2003 elite team for the year-round soccer development organization. “Their record speaks for itself. They’ve won state championships, they’ve won regional championships, and they made it to a final four last year in U.S. Soccer.”
Navigating at the highest levels of youth soccer that the United States has to offer is all about competition. Battling with teammates for a roster spot and trying to earn scholarship opportunities with three boys in the same age group is serious business.
The Goodman boys are on the younger end of their age group, and at one point, Cason and Barrett were cut from the highest-level team while Luke remained. That was hard for Beth, Barrett, and especially Cason to reconcile, considering Cason and Luke are identical.
“For the longest time, I never even considered that I would be cut. I always felt like I was one of the best players, and that’s why I liked the game,” Cason said. “At that point, I wanted to quit, and there was a time that I didn’t want to play. I just had no motivation to play at the level I was at because I didn’t feel like there was any real opportunity for me to be better again. Now I realize that was a little bit of black-and-white thinking.”
At that point, Beth stepped in and gave Cason the push to stay engaged. She dragged him out of bed to extra training sessions and gave him the encouragement that his dreams were not over even when the coaches did not. She would not let him give up on his potential.
“It’s very difficult. If you’re a parent, you want the best for your children, obviously, yet you know they are in a competitive environment, and you’re trying to win a national championship or a regional championship,” Ybarra said. “You are doing these things, and you are competing at these things, and yet one son could be on the field, and the other one is not. One could be rostered, and the other might not for that game. Beth has been able to deal with this and handle this in such a good manner. She is always positive, and I see it in her kids.”
There were times when Beth was fed up with the politics of it all, even taking one of the top coaches to lunch for explanations, only to perhaps make matters worse. She had to come home to tell her sons that she may have ruined their soccer careers.
“You are a single mother of quadruplets, a Scorpio born in the Year of the Dragon. It was gonna happen,” Cason told her. Beth framed that statement.
All the hard work paid off in subsequent years, as first Cason and then eventually Barrett worked their way back onto the 2003 elite team. Both have emerged stronger from the experience of having an athletic setback.
“Now I feel very lucky to have had that moment, because I know people that are having that moment now in college, and it’s really getting to them,” Cason said. “Just to know that it happens, and riding the bench is something that people do, and you just have to keep working, that’s all you can do.”
Beth credits Coach Goffin Boyoko, who is now a women’s soccer coach at UCLA, for encouraging the boys at Santa Barbara Soccer Club and recognizing their talent during those crucial developmental years.
Despite the Goodman children being born minutes apart, Laila assumed the role of big sister. She has always been one to plan for her future and to be prepared for the next step of life. Laila has been working toward adult goals such as working in government and helping the less fortunate since junior high school. That focus and determination rubbed off on her brothers and helped put them in position to attain their goals.
“She was telling us to start looking at colleges in 7th grade,” Luke said. “She has always been very driven and had an idea of what she wants.”
The boys, on the other hand, are more free-spirited. Laila was always there to keep them focused in school, and they were there to make sure she had what they considered the proper amount of fun.
At NYU, Laila will be majoring in pre-law with a minor in international relations. Although she will be running track at the Division 3 level, academics was the primary factor in her college decision.
“I don’t know if I want to be a lawyer or a UN ambassador or maybe be a part of the Peace Corps, but New York City has a great political environment, and for me, the academics for college was more important than the athletics.”
On the track, Laila burst onto the scene as a freshman and claimed the Channel League championship in the 400 meters. She distinguished herself as one of the most promising young runners in Santa Barbara County.
“Since I was little, I just loved to move my body, so I was naturally really quick,” Laila said. “My freshman year as a beginner, I didn’t know what to expect, so I went out fast every time, and I won pretty much every time.”
Her sophomore track and field season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, and during that pause, long-standing issues with mental health caught up with Laila.
She spent time away at inpatient facilities and put in the time and effort to work on herself and overcome the debilitating effects of her disorders. When Laila returned, she took part in an outpatient intensive program for nearly six hours a day.
“It was really a pause on life. I barely went to school. I almost dropped out of high school twice, actually,” Laila said. “I couldn’t do sports. I was barely in school.”
Thanks to great programs in Santa Barbara, medication, and Laila’s will and determination, she has been able to manage her mental health.
“I have horrible performance anxiety, and that does come with my mental disorders that worsen the symptoms,” Laila said. “My freshman year, I would faint and throw up before races, and they weren’t even big races. Sometimes it happened in practice.”
The encouragement of her brothers was motivation for returning to the track for her senior year. Laila wanted to prove to herself that she had overcome her disorders and also to regain her form so she can compete in college.
“She has always been really talented and really fast, but also just a kid that’s not afraid to work,” said Santa Barbara High track and field coach Olivia Perdices. “She’s not afraid to put her head down and do whatever it takes to get better, to get to the next level, and to make her team better. Those are the types of things that I can’t thank her enough for.”
Beyond sports, Laila fell three months behind in school and had to make up classes. It took a massive effort to complete the sheer amount of work to catch up, and she still achieved the grades necessary to reach her goals.
“The amount of bravery and effort that it took was amazing. She will never pat herself on the back. She’s just not that kind of person,” Beth said. “She had to make up compaction calculus, and the teacher had literally never seen anything like it in terms of the sheer amount of work.”
Laila decided that she will not be limited by mental-health disorders, and if her life thus far is any indication, she will continue to overcome.
“I love to run, obviously, but it’s mostly so I can get over my struggles. Because if I don’t keep testing myself every time, I won’t be satisfied with my progress,” Laila said. “It’s just something to beat within myself.”
Once a Don, Always a Don
For the Goodman boys, high school soccer has been a welcome reprieve from the ferocious competition of club soccer. Building relationships with teammates at Santa Barbara High and representing the community in high school games was something Barrett, Cason, and Luke each cherished.
Luke was brought up to varsity early into his freshman season and was reinvigorated by the experience.
“My freshman year, I fell in love with soccer again, and it was entirely because of high school, the coach, the teammates, and the environment,” said Luke, who was defensive MVP of the Channel League in his junior and senior seasons. “We go to club to play high-level teams and improve. We go to high school, and we remember why we love the game.”
Santa Barbara High athletic director Todd Heil was the varsity boys’ soccer coach at Santa Barbara High during their first two years of high school, and he was blown away by their approach.
“The amount of time and commitment that they spent getting better is impressive, and they don’t seem to take time away from their studies,” Heil said. “Their academics are phenomenal, but they are committed to their craft, and they’ve done a great job getting better every year. If you look at the three of them where they were their freshman year to where they are today, it’s impressive.
“For those that feel they can’t do it: I can tell you now it can be done. All four have been exceptional in their work habits in the classroom and on the field.”
Barrett spent his first two years at Santa Barbara High on junior varsity and built a special relationship with current varsity coach Ricardo Alcaraz Cuellar, who coached him on junior varsity those first two years before taking over for Heil as varsity coach.
“He’s been my coach for four years. He was my JV coach freshman and sophomore years, and I’ve loved the guy for four straight years,” Barrett said. “He checks in on me sometimes, and I appreciate it.”
Cason developed into the most prolific goal-scorer in the area and was co-offensive MVP of the Channel League as a junior.
All four siblings participated in signing-day ceremonies at Santa Barbara High, in the same academic year — with Luke and Cason cementing their athletic commitments to their respective colleges back in November, and Barrett and Laila earlier this April — a feat that will likely never be duplicated in Santa Barbara.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Heil said. “I’ve been here for over 20 years, and we’ve never had four athletes from the same family in the same year sign all at once, so it’s pretty special.”