Elsa Nocton, an 11-year-old who suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth Syndrome, was made an honorary member of the UConn Women’s volleyball team last week.
The Huskies worked together with the Team IMPACT organization to make it happen, and Nocton could not have been more happy to join the team.
“I think it’s really special and I’m really excited,” said Nocton. “I can’t wait to see what the next couple of years hold and I’m excited to get to know all of my awesome new sisters.”
Nocton was officially put onto the roster during a press conference. The room was full of smiles from her family, her new coaches and, especially, her new teammates. As she signed her letter of intent to join the Huskies, you could see the joy across Nocton, as well as her family’s (both new and old) faces. But that type of joy is nothing new for the people who consider themselves lucky enough to know Nocton.
“What she lacks in size I think she brings in energy, enthusiasm and, more than anything, smiles,” said head coach Kris Grunwald. “She’s been very special for our team.”
The happiness Nocton has brought has always been important to the team, as the 11-year-old has been involved with the Huskies for a long time. Nocton has gone to every game that she could, sitting in the front row, screaming and cheering on her new team. In fact, when she first found out that she was going to become a member of the volleyball team, Nocton went out of her way to memorize the players’ names, where they were from and even their birthdays.
Nocton’s commitment to the team before she was even a part of it was truly amazing, as she had an equally large impact even when she could not go to the games.
“As we travel on the buses, and the airports, or even this summer when she’s at the Dairy Bar with our players who are in summer school, the fun part for us as a coaching staff is when we hear or team yell through their facetime ‘It’s Elsa, it’s Elsa!’ and I think it really provides an awesome addition to complete the puzzle for us,” said Grunwald. “We’re very excited to bring her onboard and feel like this relationship’s already been very beneficial for both sides.”
The Huskies and Nocton seem to be a perfect match and, like coach Grunwald, senior Libero Lizzy Kline believes Nocton might be the piece to complete their puzzle.
“For a couple years now, as a volleyball program, we have been focused on establishing a culture and a foundation for who we want to be as a team,” said Kline. “In years passed, we have struggled with trying to achieve this championship culture that we all want. But I feel this year is actually the year we can obtain this championship culture, and a big part of that is because of Elsa.”
Kline said that Nocton has taught her and her teammates how to be “kind, compassionate, nice, tough and, most importantly, selfless.”
It’s clear that the impact Nocton has had and will continue to have on this volleyball team is incredible. She means so much to every player on the volleyball team and will continue to inspire them with that smile, kindness and selflessness as the season continues. She is a very welcome addition to the team and its family.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.