Eight-year-old Harry Borodemos signs with men’s hockey

University makes ninth match with Team IMPACT to support children with life-threatening illnesses

Sports Editor
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Harry Borodemos became the newest member of the men’s hockey team at a Team IMPACT Draft Day Monday. He received a personalized jersey and locker, and will attend games, practices and events with the team.

Eight-year-old Harry Borodemos, a student from Fall River, Massachusetts, became the newest addition to the Brown men’s ice hockey team roster at a Team IMPACT Draft Day held at the Pizzitola Sports Center Monday. Borodemos is the ninth student to officially join a team at Brown — and the third to sign with the men’s ice hockey team — through Team IMPACT, an organization that pairs children diagnosed with chronic or life-threatening illnesses with collegiate teams.

As a member of the team, Borodemos received his own personalized jersey, locker and other gear, and will attend practices, games and events. The team will also visit Borodemos and attend events at his school, including sports contests and recitals, providing support for him and his family.

“(Team members) will really become part of the fabric of his family, and … this group of individuals I think will get a lot out of it,” said Seth Rosenzweig, executive director of Team IMPACT. “At the same time, the family feels like they actually have a support network around them to help them during a challenging moment in a medical journey.”

The idea to extend the University’s involvement with Team IMPACT and find a match for the hockey team originally came from senior goaltender Connor Maher ’18, who previously interned at one of the organization’s offices as a high school student. At the end of his junior year, Maher proposed the idea of pairing with Team IMPACT to men’s hockey head coach Brendan Whittet ’94, who followed up on the opportunity.

“I actually worked in the same office as Team IMPACT back when I was in high school …  so I was exposed to the program a little bit, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since,” Maher said. “I wanted to get the team involved, and last year when I was towards the end of my junior year — a rising senior — I just thought it was a good time to get involved where I could really grab it and run with it, just kind of take the lead.”

The process of matching a child with a collegiate team begins with Team IMPACT staff outreach, Rosenzweig said. If a child is referred by a local hospital, Team IMPACT will vet the children and their families to ensure that they are a good fit for the organization and are able to make the time commitment. The organization will then find a team that is in close proximity to the family and is enthusiastic about welcoming a Team IMPACT recruit and train the players in preparation for the experience.

Borodemos will be an official team member for about two years before graduating in a formal ceremony and joining Team IMPACT’s alumni program. Whittet said that he hopes that the match will be impactful not only for Borodemos, but also for the team.

“I want (the team) to understand that there’s a big world out there, there are people that are battling every day and there are things that come up in people’s lives,” Whittet said. “If we in any small way can make (Borodemos’) life at this juncture more positive by having him be a part of our program, that’s a great thing.”

Having Borodemos around the locker room has already improved spirits, said captain Josh McArdle ’18. “His attitude is incredible and he never seems down,” McArdle said. “To have that around really shows us that any trouble we’re going through really isn’t that bad, and he actually inspires us probably more than we inspire him.”

Since its establishment in 2011, Team IMPACT has paired over 1,400 students with teams at more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states. At Brown, the women’s ice hockey, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer and men’s tennis teams have signed students through the program.

The organization seeks to expand both nationally and internationally in the coming years and has already received interest from Canada and countries in Europe, Rosenzweig said.

“We currently have 1,200 teams on a waiting list, so our biggest opportunity is to find as many kids as possible that could benefit,” Rosenzweig said. “The dream would be to have every child that’s living with a serious or chronic illness and every college athlete experience the power of this.”

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