In the heat of athletic competition, players are doing everything they can in order to bring home a victory that day. That type of focus and perseverance can immeasurably help an individual develop on and off the field. However, sometimes it isn’t about the final score or wins and losses. Sports can help bring someone out of a dark mental state, and brighten someone’s outlook on life. When programs like Team Impact bring children to immerse themselves in the power of sport, everyone wins.
The children that Team Impact works with are usually suffering from chronic and potentially life-threatening illness. Faced with challenging days and mounting odds, their mental state of being needs extra special attention in order to provide hope. Team Impact provides that by partnering children with college sports teams, so they can get out on the field and enjoy some time with athletes. The program matches children with teams for a two-year therapeutic period, which allows them to form personal bonds with the players, and vice versa.
There are many heartwarming stories that have been facilitated by Team Impact. One such example involves Melissa Ponce, a 13 year old who did not have the happiest of birthdays this year. She had a brain tumor earlier this year, which led to Type 2 diabetes, and was in the hospital for several days. It was a brutal stretch for Ponce, but her days were made more cheerful by a visit from the UCLA women’s water polo team.
Six players went to see Ponce in the hospital, and it was something the newly minted teenager will not soon forget.
“Just to have the girls be able to come down because I know they’re pretty far away, that was really awesome,” Ponce said. Via DailyBruin.com
Not only did Ponce receive a memorable visit, she signed a letter of intent with the UCLA women’s polo team, which made her a part of the team. Bruins junior Katrina Drake realized the importance of the connection forged with Ponce during this time.
“Obviously this year has been tough for a lot of people, but we can’t even imagine what she’s going through having to do all her treatments plus being isolated,” Drake said. Via DailyBruin.com
Another inspirational story involves the pairing of children with Daemen College athletics, which is a school in upstate New York. Katie Titus, who was a junior guard with the women’s basketball team last season, was the central point of contact with Anna Rose, a 16-year old who joined the team through Team Impact.
“Everything was so up in the air and we had so many uncertainties that having the idea of a match in the coming years and actually getting to meet her virtually of course(during the pandemic) and everything was great,” she said. Via Daemenwildcats.com
The school’s men’s volleyball team added William, a 13 year old to their team, and he brought a lot of energy to their team meetings.
“As you as you can on a Zoom call with him(William) or anything, even if you got a ton of other stuff going on during the day, as soon as you’re talking with him for like two seconds you’re all in. You’re like, ‘this kid’s awesome!’”, said Daemon men’s volleyball coach Don Gleason. Via Daemenwildcats.com
These types of connections appear to be extremely rewarding for both the teams and the young children alike, and reminds us just powerful sports can be in uniting a society.