Team IMPACT gives children with illnesses opportunities to become members of NCAA programs

Each year, thousands of high schoolers across the country sign their national letters of intent to play a variety of sports at one of the NCAA’s three intercollegiate levels. But sometimes the players who make the biggest impact on each other’s lives will never step on the playing surface or even appear in any game for their respective programs.

They’re the teammates you laugh and share stories with behind the scenes. They’re the teammates that teach you that there is always a bigger meaning behind participating in sports. They’re the same teammates that teach us how to love, care and respect each other.

Those teammates are the children from Team IMPACT.

Team IMPACT is a program that gives children, ages 5-15, with life-threatening or chronic illnesses that have resulted in treatment or extended hospital stays within the past three years, an outlet of support from NCAA programs. Participants are drafted to local colleges to any sport at any level. According to the organization’s website, teams are determined based on proximity to the child’s family as well as the program’s enthusiasm and committment to providing the child “consistent and active socialization both on and off campus.” Team IMPACT participants stay with their respective teams and participate in all team activities from their “Draft Day” until their graduation, which generally is two or three years later.

On Draft Day, a child signs the dotted line and officially becomes a member of the team. They go through the standard signing procedure and hold an introductory press conference before they meet their teammates and get their jerseys and team gear at their own individual locker in the locker room.

After attending practices, games, meals and other team-oriented activities and trips, the team holds a graduation ceremony for the child, where their accomplishments are celebrated as they begin to transition back into their regular routines. Like any other student-athlete, after graduation they will forever be remembered as an alumnus of the school’s program.

Team IMPACT began in 2011 when co-founders Jay Calnan and Dan Kraft, and a group of their former classmates and business associates wanted to bring together children, families and college programs together to help a bigger causes than sports themselves. Less than a decade into the program’s existence, thousands of children have benefited while tens of thousands of student-athletes have joined a movement greater than their on-field responsibilities.

Team IMPACT’s mission statement is to “improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of a team.”

Take a look at some of this year’s Team IMPACT participants and the NCAA programs involved:

Welcome our newest Terp!

Maryland signs top recruit Mason Mazzuca from @GoTeamIMPACT! #MasonStrong

https://t.co/6HaoqaoYJdpic.twitter.com/Vo9Py7U2pE

— Maryland Baseball (@TerpsBaseball) October 18, 2017

Incredible @GoTeamIMPACT Draft Day at @BabsonIce, as @BabsonHockey welcomed Coleman Walsh to the family. #BeTheIMPACT#GoBabopic.twitter.com/N5h1UImz4O

— Babson Athletics (@BabsonAthletics) October 10, 2017

#UConnSB with teammate Abbie Brouker, 11-year-old from Farmington, at Tuesday’s practice. @GoTeamIMPACT

RELEASE: https://t.co/ov1IliONohpic.twitter.com/hmaaYtBAyW

— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) October 4, 2017

ICYMI | Last week the Vanderbilt spirit squad welcomed nine-year old Kinsey Keever to the team through @GoTeamImpact! #AnchorDownpic.twitter.com/HtpR3PEtmf

— Vanderbilt Athletics (@vucommodores) October 3, 2017

Had to get the win tonight for our teammate Kayla’s birthday! @GoTeamIMPACT#ThisIsVermontpic.twitter.com/64DsYcRIsg

— UVM Women’s Hockey (@UVMwhockey) September 30, 2017

Look for 10-year-old Tay’Shawn Landry’s story tonight on @KATCTV3 at 10 pm. #GeauxCajuns#BeInspired@RaginCajunsFB@GoTeamIMPACTpic.twitter.com/e1gLuyEVsI

— Ragin’ Cajuns FB (@RaginCajunsFB) September 23, 2017

THANK GOD FOR @GoTeamIMPACT AND @UMichFootball

WHAT A DIFFERENCE THEY HAVE MADE IN THE LIFE OF OUR BEAR!! They are Larry’s TEAM TEAM TEAM!! pic.twitter.com/pN1O9Jxbpj

— Prout Family (@gardens8) September 25, 2017

FINAL | @UIndywsoccer celebrates @GoTeamIMPACT member Rory Halbert’s graduation and picks up a 1-0 win over @LewisWSoccer! #GLVCwsocpic.twitter.com/pWob95YRXG

— UIndy Athletics (@UIndyAthletics) October 6, 2017

For more information, visit http://www.goteamimpact.org and on Twitter @GoTeamIMPACT.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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