Cavalier Corner

June 2018

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cavalier sports 6 CAVALIER CORNER behind the scenes Team IMPACT I n April, Virginia baseball and swimming welcomed two highly coveted recruits to their programs. On April 16, head baseball coach Brian O'Connor announced the signing of 9-year- old John "Parker" Staples at a press confer- ence held at Disharoon Park. Two weeks later, swimming and diving coach Todd De- Sorbo announced the signing of 6-year-old Cary Lynn Fields during a special signing ceremony at the Aquatic and Fitness Center. In partnership with Boston-based Team IMPACT, Staples and Fields will become official members of the baseball and swim programs at UVA. As team members, they will attend practices, games, team dinners, events and more. Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, "forming lifelong bonds and life- changing outcomes." Parker — who is from Waynesboro, Va. — was stricken with Lym- phoma in 2017, while Fields — a native of Bumpass, Va. — was diagnosed in 2011 with Cerebral Palsy. "Her mother told me Cary Lynn was up at 5 a.m. in the morning wanting to put on her orange and blue for the day's signing," DeSorbo said at the signing event. "To know that we are having that type of impact in her life is heartening. It was great having Cary Lynn and her family join our team in Charlottesville. "Team IMPACT is a fantastic cause, and our student-athletes have had a great ex- perience being involved with Cary Lynn. She is a 6-year-old that loves the water and music. "Our staff and our student-athletes are excited to have her joining our program, and we look forward to having Cary Lynn on the deck at future practices and home competitions." Parker's presence had a similar effect on the Cavalier baseball squad. "We were fortunate to get Parker as a match," third-year pitcher Chesdin Har- rington said. "I talked to assistant AD for baseball administration Justin [Armistead] and Coach O'Connor, and we got a couple of guys to help out and really make this thing special for him. "Being able to continue the relationship for years to come is going to be exciting for us." Team IMPACT said throughout the jour- ney, its children gain strength, camaraderie and support, while the student-athletes ex- perience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom. Coach O'Connor said the experiences of Staples and Fields are good reminders of how to persevere through difficulty for the student-athletes. "We talk a lot about the difficulties we can face in a season and in our own lives. Here you have this 9-year-old boy who's hit some speed bumps in his life and he's tackled them," O'Connor explained. "He's handled the adversity. "Things are going to happen, and you've got to handle the adversity and continue to move forward. Parker is a tremendous example of that." Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children at more than 500 colleges and universities. — Greg Waters John "Parker" Staples — a 9-year-old from Waynesboro, Va., who was stricken with Lymphoma — joined the UVA baseball program via Team IMPACT. PHOTO COURTESY UVA Team IMPACT brought together the Virginia swimming program and 6-year-old Cary Lynn Fields of Bumpass, Va., who has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. PHOTO COURTESY UVA

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