Just weeks away from tipping its season off against UMass Lowell, the Maryland women’s basketball team has added a new member: 5-year-old Ashlyn Barrett. However, unlike the rest of the players, who were recruited before signing on with the Terps, Barrett was drafted through Team IMPACT, a Boston-based organization that strives to improve the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
The program matches children with a local college athletic team, of which the child will become an official member. As a result, the players gain a life perspective they would not otherwise have been able to. According to its website, Team IMPACT has matched 773 kids with 306 schools in 43 states.
Ashlyn, who was drafted this past Saturday, suffers from a variety of conditions, notably Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a heart defect which consists of an extremely rapid heartbeat. According to her mother, Jen, in a team release, becoming a Terrapin has allowed Ashlyn to "finally feel a part of something." Barrett has spent time with the team and attended various team functions over the past few months.
Earlier this month, the men’s lacrosse team drafted Fionn Crimmins, a 5-year-old battling leukemia. During the team’s fall scrimmage against Bucknell, he stood on the sideline in uniform and led the handshake line after the game.
Barrett won’t get any playing time this season, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be a positive influence on the team. Senior center Malina Howard said in the program's release that Ashlyn "makes us want to be better every day and we hope we can bring her some joy as well."
One thing is for sure: As long as Barrett is around, her presence can only impact Maryland for the better.