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STORRS, Conn. - The UConn women's ice hockey team picked up an excited new teammate on Friday afternoon, as eight-year-old Ashley Greenier of Vernon, Conn. officially became a part of the program through Team IMPACT.
Greenier, who suffers from DiGeorge Syndrome, visited the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum with her family to sign her letter of intent with head coach Chris MacKenzie and meet the team in the locker room.
"We are so excited to involve Team IMPACT with our program and thrilled to have Ashley join our team," said MacKenzie. "She is an energetic kid and we are lucky to have her as part of the UConn family."
Ashley signed her letter in MacKenzie's office with media in attendance and then received an official customized UConn hockey jersey with her last name on the back. The jersey is number 24 - the same number as sophomore goalie Morgan Fisher, another Vernon native.
Coincidentally, Greenier's nickname is "Fish", the same as Fisher's nickname among her UConn teammates.
Following the signing, Ashley visited the locker room where she found her own personalized locker with name and number at the top. She posed for photos in the locker room and presented each member of the team with a gift - a CD of some of her favorite music.
Her parents, David and Terri, were in attendance for the special moment as Ashley became a part of UConn Nation.
"I think it's great to see something other than a medical thing for her to do," said Terri Greenier. "She gets to have all this excitement and do something different, but it's not focused on her medical condition.
A lot of times when we go out, it's strictly to do something medical. It's for a doctor's appointment, we have to do something at the hospital - things like that. To have this kind of involvement in her life, it takes the focus off those kinds of things."
The Huskies are excited to have Ashley as a new teammate and look forward to her coming to practices and games this season to cheer them on. UConn's season-opener is next Friday, Sept. 29 at St. Cloud State.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,200 children with more than 450 colleges and universities in 46 states, reaching over 35,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team - from Draft Day to Graduation. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom.
Team IMPACT has more than 1,000 teams waiting to be matched with children, ages 5-16, who have been diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness and who could benefit from becoming a member of the team. If you know a child who may be interested, visit www.goteamimpact.org for more information.