Basketball team drafts 10-year old boy as part of Team Impact

Natalie BarlettaOpinions Editor

It was like Christmas came early for 10-year-old Jack Larsen. Larsen, who is struggling with the effects of Mitochondrial Myopathy, became a member of the Southern Owls basketball team on Friday, Dec. 19.

Larsen got the full effect of becoming a member of the Owls basketball team. This included getting an official draft ceremony in the Moore Field House Lobby. The team applauded as Larsen received an official Southern Owls jersey, which was presented by player Deshawn Murphy. He then signed a draft letter, which made him an official part of the team.

“It is a great day to welcome our 14th member,” said Mike Markrubika, who is the assistant basketball coach, during the ceremony. “Welcome to our family.”

_MG_1287This is the first Team Impact event for the Southern Owls basketball team. According to the Team Impact website, Team Impact matches terminally ill children with local college teams. These children are drafted officially, and remain a part of the team until graduation.

The team members become a member of the child’s support team, and the child is a part of the school’s athletic team. So far, Team Impact has helped 573 kids and is in partnership with 293 schools in 42 different states.

“Jack will get the full effect of being a part of the Southern basketball team,” said head coach Michael Donnelly. “He just won’t be playing in any games. He probably will be sitting on the bench.”

Larsen has Mitochondrial Myopathy, which is a disease that causes muscle problems. Ever since he was an infant, Larsen was faced with difficulties. His development was delayed, and his parents began to notice how every milestone was delayed, from crawling and walking, to simple things such as blowing out birthday candles.

At age five, he had a muscle biopsy, and an ultrasound. The results came back with an official diagnosis–Mitochondrial Myopathy. Since his diagnosis is a newer one and  the future is uncertain for Jack.

_MG_1317Since his diagnosis, Larsen faced difficulties with several challenges in his day to day life. This includes having difficulty in speech, walking long distances and has motor problems which causes him to have issues with tasks such as writing.

Currently, Larsen goes to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for appointments, and receives treatments at Yale Children’s New Haven Hospital. He is also undergoing a trial treatment, however the results are unknown.

After the event, Larsen’s father said that his son “loves all sports.” He plays for a Challenger baseball league, but, it only lasted for six weeks.

Coach Donnelly was excited to welcome Larsen to his team, in addition to stressing the benefits for the members of the team.

“We want our guys to understand that there is more than winning or losing,” said Donnelly.

The team members were also excited to be a part of Team Impact.

“Personally, I enjoy it,” said player Deshawn Murphy. “It will motivate us to play harder, and it’s a good way to give back.”

When asked about how their son felt about being a part of the Owls community, Larsen’s parents said that “he has been looking forward to it for days.” According to Larsen’s parents, Jack is excited to attend his first Southern basketball game.

“It’s great for a young man who is going through some problems,” said Jay Moran, athletic director.

For more information on the SCSU Athletics Site

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Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas


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