The North Carolina field hockey program has a new member, but she won't be competing on the field.
Emma, a participant of the Team IMPACT program, officially joined the Tar Heels prior to their exhibition matchup with Duke in August, complete with a signing ceremony. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2019, but has been in remission and off treatment for two years.
The Team IMPACT program matches children with serious illnesses or disabilities to college sports teams. As stated on its website, its seeks to guide children and teams alike in a mutually beneficial relationship of belonging, empowerment, and resilience.
The program was founded in 2011 by a group of eight former college athletes in Boston who wanted to celebrate teams' power of community by giving children the opportunity to experience it for themselves. The family of the child submits an application through Team IMPACT and is matched with a collegiate program in their area.
Emma was matched with the UNC field hockey team this season.
“It took about three or four weeks before she actually got matched with the field hockey team,” Emma’s mother, Ashley, said. “Her doctor was the one that actually initiated everything for us.”
Other than being an official member of the team, Emma is able to fully immerse herself in the field hockey world.
“She will be able to start coming out on the field with us when we have actual games, she has a chair in the locker room, we gave her a stick, we’re gonna get her a uniform she can wear,” senior back Dorrit Eisenbeis said. “She is fully a part of the team.”
Emma, who is from Pinehurst, N.C., travels with her family to Chapel Hill for doctor's appointments. Ashley said her family also plans to make the commute for the team’s home games and other events in order for her to get the full experience of being a North Carolina field hockey player.