Finding Connection in Unexpected Places: Emma and the University of Wisconsin Women’s Basketball Team

10-year-old Emma has found a home of unexpected belonging with the girls of the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team. And the feeling is mutual. 

Shortly after birth, Emma was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder—one of only 32 people in the world with her specific condition. Her disorder causes multiple silent seizures each day and often makes emotional connection and concentration difficult.  

In the fall of last year, a light in the dark came when Emma was matched with the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team. As she first began her Team IMPACT journey, her primary goals for engaging with the program were clear—empowerment and socialization—forging meaningful relationships, making friends, and experiencing joy and happiness in her life.   

Throughout this experience, she has gained so much more than she and her family anticipated. She can often be found dancing in the locker room, invested in the game, or forging bonds with her favorite teammates. Emma’s mom, Katy shared the change she has seen in Emma because of Team IMPACT.  

Emma showed a particular emotional connection with teammate, Avery, who she nominated for the 2023 Teammate of the Year with a special video and song.  

Emma’s mother shared about their connection, “Avery has opened doors for Emma that we didn’t realize could be opened. She helped Emma develop and share empathy and team spirit through her heart, love, and determination on and off the court. Her caring nature and team spirit have shown Emma what it means to play fair and fierce, and her kindness off the court has made Emma feel loves and supported. She knows that she will always have a friend in Avery.” 

Through the experience as a whole, she has seen a major shift in Emma. “When we signed up, it felt like it would be a fun, unique, and cool experience. We had no idea how transformative it would be. Emma is fully invested in being part of the team. She loves all her teammates dearly, and watches the entirety of the games—which for Emma is an incredible feat in and of itself. If that wasn’t enough, she is emotionally connected, which is the most incredible part of all.”  

Katy is an incredible advocate for Emma, but her generosity doesn’t stop there. She has been so inspired by the transformation she’s seen in her daughter, that she volunteers as an advocate for Team IMPACT, sharing her daughter’s story to get other families who might benefit from the program involved.  

Head Coach, Marisa Moseley has also seen a shift in perspective through the collegiate lens. “Often times we get caught up in the wins and losses of things, but I believe Emma and her family came into our Badger family to remind us of the bigger impact that we can all have on people every single day.” 

Coach Moseley’s words embody what Team IMPACT is all about. We can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of this dream team’s time together.