The little legs swung out of the car first, then came the navy-blue UConn softball sweatshirt, topped off by the white Team IMPACT hat and a smile reminiscent of a player about to be drafted to play their favorite sport. That’s because five minutes from then, it was exactly what was going to happen to 11-year-old Abigail Brouker.
“Today, we are going to welcome Abbie to the team and she will sign her letter of intent,” said UConn softball head coach Jen McIntyre, receiving cheers from everyone in attendance. Following McIntyre’s lead, Brouker put pen to paper and officially became part of the UConn Softball team on Wednesday afternoon.
Brouker is from Unionville, Connecticut and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) back in 2007, a form of childhood cancer that invades the blood and spreads quickly throughout the body. Without treatment, ALL can be fatal within a few months of diagnosis, according to Webmd.com
Brouker connected with Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization based out of Boston whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing serious and chronic illnesses by matching them up with college athletic teams.
Team IMPACT partnered with the UConn softball team to give Brouker this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The draft ceremony took place at the Mark R. Shenkman Training Facility on the UConn Storrs campus and Brouker sat at the podium flanked by her parents, Kristi and Eric, and McIntyre.
“There is a whole team of people here ready to welcome you with open arms,” said McIntyre, and her sentiments were repeated by the entire team, as they proceeded to laugh and joke with Brouker and ask her a little more about herself.
It turns out Brouker is more than just a star athlete that idolizes Big Papi, as she is set to perform in the play “Annie” at her school and is also a Girl Scout that has earned the bronze award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can receive.
Along with signing her letter of intent, Brouker was there to receive her very own softball jersey, with the number two on it being her favorite, and was also presented with some post-Halloween goodies from the team: gigantic bags of Hershey Kisses and Sour Patch Kids and a large, softball-designed, M&M cookie from Insomnia Cookies. She will also have her very own locker and name plate with the team.
Brouker met with the team for the first time on Oct. 4, where she took batting practice with her new teammates at the Burrill Family Field. At the ceremony, Brouker was given a picture of herself batting from that day and all her teammates signed it for her.
When asked about the most exciting part of joining the team, Brouker exclaimed, “Everybody’s awesome,” with that classic draft-day smile.
Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.