Redefining What It Means to be a Champion

The Team IMPACT community thrives on the spirit of champions. On and off the field, court, ice, or track, in their campuses and communities, our kids and athletes show us every day what it means to be a champion. Last year, there were Team IMPACT teammates matched on four National Champion teams and 74 Conference Champion teams across NCAA Divisions I, II, and III. Their presence reshaped the very fabric of victory and camaraderie, redefining the meaning of champion.

Annabelle Hasselbeck and her Boston College women’s lacrosse teammates are no strangers to success. Coming off a National Championship the season prior, they had their sights set high on another season of big wins. With the unwavering support of their Team IMPACT teammates Lucy and Sophie, the Eagles clinched their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. “Lucy and Sophie’s presence rejuvenated us when we needed it most and allowed us to cross the ACC finish line on top,” Annabelle said.

Much like Annabelle and Boston College lacrosse, Dillon Wilhite and his Kansas Basketball teammates were fresh off a National Championship season and looking to their Team IMPACT teammate, JP, to drive them to another season of success. Through a Big 12 Conference Championship and another impressive run in the NCAA March Madness Tournament, the Jayhawks had JP supporting them, motivating them, and reminding them it’s about more than basketball. “Whenever JP’s around, he always has a smile on his face. His energy is contagious,” Dillon said. “His presence has brought joy to our team and is a reminder of the true purpose of the game: to spread joy and have fun.”

JP, now a Team IMPACT alum, has made an impression on Kansas Athletics that will remain long past his two years in Team IMPACT’s program. He has redefined what success means at Kansas Basketball. “Before joining Team IMPACT, my definition of a champion was someone who works consistently towards a goal and stands out for their achievements,” Dillon shared. “Since joining Team IMPACT, my definition of a champion has grown and evolved significantly. Being a champion is not solely based off trophies or personal accolades, but it is about inspiring others and leaving a long-lasting impact. JP is a true champion because he uplifts others, has made an impact in many people’s lives, has a strong character, and is a role model in our community.”

Hannah Boone, a sophomore on the Trinity College women’s basketball team, knows her team’s 2022-2023 season would not have been the historic season it was if it weren’t for her Team IMPACT teammate, Adrianna. “I strongly believe we wouldn’t have made it to the Elite Eight last year if it wasn’t for Adrianna and Team IMPACT who helped us grow and shift our mindset to be able to attack obstacles and learn from hardships,” Hannah said. The team’s friendship with Adrianna has done more than lead them to the Elite Eight­—it has completely redefined the way Hannah and her teammates view the word “champion.” “Being a champion is more than just outscoring your opponent. It’s developing, learning, and growing, even through obstacles and challenges. Not all champions win a championship, but all champions make a lasting impact beyond the game itself and beyond a winning score.”

For Daemen Volleyball and Team IMPACT Fellow Maggie Burns, their Team IMPACT teammate Ava revitalized their purpose on their road to the East Coast Conference Championship. “The Daemen volleyball program tries to focus on and channel our ‘why,’ and as a team our why is Ava,” said Maggie. “As a program we talk all the time about the intangibles—our effort, attitude, communication, and relationships with our teams. All those intangibles are what Ava notices and what she does for us whenever she is around.”

The Penn Baseball team clinched the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 1995 after winning the 2023 Ivy League Baseball Tournament. Junior infielder Alex Gabauer knows the succusses the Quakers achieved during this historic season are due in large part to their Team IMPACT teammate, Toby, and the positive influence he shared with the team every day. “Toby brings a beam of light with him everywhere he goes, and that light radiates to use all each and every moment we get with him,” Penn Baseball’s Alex Gabauer said. “Team IMPACT and Toby have collectively been a driving force and a key component to our team’s success.” Like many of his fellow student-athletes, Alex’s definition of champion has expanded since meeting Toby. “My time with Team IMPACT has taught me that a champion is not just a winner in a competition but also a winner in the hearts and minds of those they touch with their compassion and dedication.”

As we head into another school year, we look forward to another year of triumphs and togetherness that create champions of all of us.