As the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s basketball tournament begins today, hundreds of student-athletes will look to an additional teammate for support – their Team IMPACT match. In total, over 25 teams across Men’s and Women’s Divisions I, II and III have Team IMPACT matches by their side. Meet the match-ups:
Division I Men’s
Charleston, matched with Jaden:
Jaden and the team were matched in July of 2022. Jaden is 7yrs old with a big personality, he is spunky and loves to make people smile. His diagnosis is Leukemia, currently he is just doing monthly check ins with doctors to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. He has attended almost all of the team’s home games. He goes in the locker room with the guys, leads them onto the court, and even had his birthday celebrated with the team! At the party they got him a cake, sneakers, and played video games with him, he LOVED it! He is very connected with a few players-Jaylen, Dalton, and Chuck.
Houston, matched with Jace:
Ten-year-old Jace, who battles nephrotic syndrome and lupus, was matched with the Houston Cougars in August 2022. In the short time he has been with the program, Jace, from Houston, TX, has developed meaningful relationships with Coach Sampson; his daughter, Lauren, who is the Director of Operations; and redshirt Freshman guard Emmanuel Sharp. Jace takes his role as Lead Ball Boy very seriously and enjoys making others smile.
Howard, matched with Dominic
Kansas, matched with JP:
Now 18, Jonathan Phog (JP) is ready to defend his national title with the Kansas Jayhawks. A Lenexa, KS, native, JP has been matched with the team for three years. Within months of securing the championship ring in 2022, JP’s cancer returned. In the face of adversity, he is equally mentally and physically tough as his teammates as he battles this illness.
Marquette, matched with Larry:
Almost-10-year-old Larry, who completed chemotherapy and radiation for a rare form of childhood cancer in 2022, has been matched with Marquette Men’s Basketball for the past year. Kenosha native Larry and his dad love attending games together, and being matched with the team has provided them space to do something fun, exciting, and meaningful together. Larry may be best known for his locker room dance moves and his ESPN cameo.
Maryland, matched with Ben:
Eleven-year-old Ben’s life changed when he required an urgent heart transplant after otherwise being a healthy child. Ben, from Alexandria, VA, was matched with the University of Maryland Men’s Basketball team in December 2020 and even helped the Terps and Coach Turgeon celebrate Christmas via Zoom. Throughout his time with Team IMPACT, Ben has enjoyed supporting his Terps on the court, attending TI events, and making new friends like Cal, who is matched with the Maryland Football team.
Miami, matched with Brennon:
Fifteen-year-old Brennon, from Ave Maria, FL, is living with a heart condition. He was matched with the Hurricanes in November 2019 and transitioned to our alumni program in Spring 2022. Brennon radiates positivity, optimism, and grit — most notably for penning a pre-game speech for the Duke game last season. Brennon and his family remain strongly connected to the U Miami and Team IMPACT communities.
Oral Roberts, matched with Beckham:
Beckham, from Bixby, OK, is five years old and was matched with the team in January. Born with a congenital heart defect, Beckham has had four major heart surgeries. Since his Signing Day in February, he’s attended every Saturday night home game and is excited to cheer on his team in the March Madness tournament.
Providence, matched with Brody and Brennan:
Brody and Brennan are 13-year-old twins who were born with a genetic disorder. They have been matched with Providence College Men’s Basketball since the fall. Their Signing Day was a huge highlight as they thrive on great energy and hype. They had a blast at the basketball games they’ve attended and proudly wear their PC gear and tell everyone that they are on the team.
University of Connecticut, matched with Rylan:
Almost-11-year-old Rylan, of Ellington, CT, was matched with the University of Connecticut Men’s Basketball team in September 2018. Rylan lives with chronic immune dysfunction. Over the course of his relationship with the team, Rylan and his entire family became family to the Huskies, past and current. Rylan developed strong bonds with his former teammates, current Estonian-Latvian Basketball League player Alterique Gilbert and current UConn Director of Player Development Mamadou Diarra. With his swag and style, Rylan will always Bleed Blue and cheer for his team.
Utah State, matched with Reid:
Reid is 10 years old and turns 11 March 29th! He has been matched with the team since January of 2020. Reid and his mom have gone to almost all of the home games and love cheering on the guys!
Vermont, matched with Dylan:
Dylan, who is 10 years old from Jericho, VT, was matched with the UVM men’s basketball team in July 2022. Since being matched last summer, Dylan has quickly become a true part of this team, going to many practices and games. Dylan supports his team by standing out on the court with them at the beginning of games and giving his team high-fives.
Division I Women’s
Duke, matched with Cambria:
Fourteen-year-old Cambria (Cam) has a very complex medical diagnosis, which requires daily injections, regular nausea, pain, and headaches, was matched with the Duke Devils in January 2023. Raleigh native Cam has enjoyed attending games and cheering on her new teammates within days of a scheduled medical procedure on her birthday.
Holy Cross, matched with Emily:
Fifteen-year-old Emily has been matched with the Holy Cross women’s basketball team since December 2022. Emily and her family are HUGE Holy Cross fans, attending any home game they can and watching all away games on TV while repping their team gear. Emily can’t wait to cheer her team on in the tournament.
Indiana, matched with Payton:
Within weeks of her baby sister’s birth, nine-year-old Payton, was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyostis (JDM). JDM is an autoimmune illness where the body reacts abnormally, causing butterfly rashes, joint pain, and inflammation. Payton, from Evansville, IN, was matched with the Indiana Women’s Basketball team in October 2021 and traveled to support her girls at the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Payton’s family history runs deep with IU. Her mom is an alum and previously worked as a student manager to the Women’s Basketball Program.
UCLA, matched with Brandi:
At age three, Brandi began receiving dialysis. By five, she had received a new kidney and liver. Now, at age 11, Brandi, from Cerritos, CA, continues to require medical intervention, surgery, and hospitalizations to further stabilize her condition. Matched with the UCLA Bruins for the past year, Brandi and the team have provided reciprocal support and encouragement. Despite medical challenges, the team has maintained regular contact, sent care packages for longer hospitalization stays, and outfitted Brandi in full Bruins gear.
University of Connecticut, matched with Daniela:
Ten-year-old Daniela, from Plainville, CT, was matched with the UConn Women’s Basketball team in September 2018. Daniela lives with a life-threatening blood disorder known as Cooley’s Anemia. Daniela and the Huskies have traveled to NCAA and Big EAST tournaments together, carved pumpkins, celebrated birthdays, engagements, and pregnancy announcements, and so much more. Daniela is a highly competitive dancer, which makes her equally elite to her teammates.
Virginia Union Men’s Basketball, matched with Brandon
Daemen Women’s Basketball, matched with Lauren
Division III Men’s:
Arcadia, matched with Khaliq
Montclair State, matched with Noah
Rowan, matched with Austin
Swarthmore, matched with Joy
Tufts, matched with Andrew
Division III Women’s:
Baldwin Wallace, matched with Kira
Rhode Island College, matched with Paige
Roger Williams, matched with Isabella
Trinity, matched with Adrianna
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