STORRS, Conn. – The UConn softball team had a special experience at Tuesday’s practice, as coaches and players met their new teammate – 11-year-old Abbie Brouker – for the first time at the Burrill Family Field.
Brouker, who was joined by her mother Kristi and her friend, 10-year-old Natalie Lombardi, joins the UConn Athletics family through Team IMPACT - a nonprofit that connects children facing chronic illnesses with college athletic teams.
“As important as this is for us, it’s as equally important for Abbie and our sport,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “To have the opportunity to give back and provide an opportunity for a young lady who has been through a tremendous amount and be part of a team is what this is all about.”
McIntyre added, “We are super excited to have her join our family and looking forward to a lot of fun days ahead.”
Abbie, a native of Farmington, Conn., met UConn coaches and players with high-fives and hugs before showing what she could do on a softball field. A multi-sport athlete in basketball and softball, Abbie took swings at the plate with her friend Natalie.
Afterward, Abbie sat in the dugout with sophomore Carissa Brizzi and watched her teammates play a competitive hitting game. Assistant coach Adrienne Clark then taught her how to pitch and her methods proved effective, as Abbie struck-out assistant coach Chrissy Schoonmaker.
The team convened in the outfield at the end of practice for pizza and drinks, getting the chance to learn more about Abbie. McIntyre presented her with a backpack full of official UConn gear to make sure she matches with her teammates.
A team photo ensued in front of the Burrill Family Field scoreboard, with Abbie right in the middle of the photo. The Huskies did a team cheer to wrap-up practice.
Abbie, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, will sign her official letter of intent with UConn softball on a future date. Until then, she will be cheering on her team this weekend when it hosts Dartmouth on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Central Connecticut State on Sunday (doubleheader at noon).