Ten-year old Meredith “Merry” Ross signed a letter of intent with the UConn women’s swimming and diving team Wednesday night at Team IMPACT’s “Draft Day” ceremony.
Merry was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and is currently in remission. But Wednesday night in the Wolff-Zackin Natatorium, Merry became an official UConn Husky by joining the women’s swimming and diving team. She will attend the team’s practices, games, team dinners and other events.
When given the floor to speak, the ever-humble Merry thanked everybody who made this possible with a warm, “Thank you.”
“We are really, really proud that she chose UConn. There are a lot of schools out there, so the fact that she chose the Husky ladies to share that bond with is really something special,” head coach Chris Maiello said.
Coach Maiello believes that both Merry and his team have a lot to gain from this relationship going forward. There are things the team can teach Mary about swimming, and things about hard work and having a positive attitude that Merry can teach her teammates.
“Commitment, hard work, faith, belief, strength, understanding the process and understanding that the road to success is sometimes twisty and turny, those are concepts that student athletes struggle with everyday and really work hard to understand,” Maiello said. “I think she is going to help us with a lot of things and I think we are going to help her with a lot of things. It’s a great relationship when you can have a mutual benefit in a relationship.”
During the press conference preceding Merry putting pen to paper on the letter of intent, she was joined by her mother Megan Ross. She prepared a few words to say about the swimming and diving team, as well as the Team IMPACT program itself.
“Merry is so excited to be a part of this program,” Megan said. “We couldn’t have lucked out better to have such a great team to be with. She was excited when she found out it was going to be the swim team at UConn. So far everybody has been so welcoming and she has had so much fun and we are looking forward to seeing how this program develops.”
Merry, Megan and coach Maiello weren’t the only ones enthusiastic about the signing. The swimmers and divers could not have been more thrilled to have Merry officially join the squad. Merry had time over the last few months to bond with her new teammates and create unbreakable friendships.
“Merry, I think I can speak for the entire team when I say we’re so excited to have the opportunity to have you on our team,” freshman swimmer Linnea Anderson said. “Over the last few months, we’ve had a great time bonding with you at our swim meets, when you get ice cream with us and also when we go to the dining hall. Throughout getting to know you, I’ve loved your positive presence and bubbly personality, and I think you’ll fit in to the team culture great. We feel so lucky to have you and we’re inspired by your courage everyday.”
Team IMPACT is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Boston. They connect children facing serious or chronic illness with college athletic teams, forming lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes.
“I think the whole lesson of sports is to be a part of something bigger than yourself and work towards a common goal with each individual contributing. I think this program is the perfect opportunity for our women’s team to do that,” Maiello said.
After signing her letter of intent, Merry was given her own nameplate for her new locker. Merry cannot wait to get back in the pool with her teammates, she said. During her Q&A, she revealed that her favorite thing she has done with the team so far is swimming, and when asked what she looks forward to in the future, she replied, “more swimming.” One thing is certain: Merry’s work ethic is undoubtedly extraordinary.
Sean Janos is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.