Hartford, Connecticut, November 29, 2016 - Sunday, November 20, was a special day for the Trinity College men and women's swimming and diving teams. Not only was it their home opener against Bates College, but it was Team Impact Player Signing Day. The Bantams welcomed Matthew, a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with Gene 8 Syndrome and high-functioning autism, onto their squad and into their family.
Earlier in the year, the Bantams were notified of a possible match between their teams and a Team Impact child, and were fortunate enough to be connected with Matthew. He came and visited the team in early November, and fit in immediately. Matthew was able to swim with the team, even participating in a game of Sharks and Minnows during one of their early practices. Matthew also joined in with the Bantams during the annual "The Hour of Power" to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer and wanted to race with the team for the last 30 minutes.
Coach Carlos Vega said, "Matthew has had such a positive impact on our team. Our Bantams have been very supportive of Matthew and we hope that he has a great experience and feels like part of our swimming and diving family."
Junior John Dolan (Westfield, Mass.) explained what it meant to the team to be able to make such an impact: "I went into this with the intent that I would do the best that I could to make the time we have with Matthew special, but what I didn't expect was how much Matthew would gravitate towards the team and our sport. Looking back on when we met him only a few short weeks ago, it is incredible to see the growing confidence and zeal in Matthew each opportunity I get to see him -- and that's what has made this experience humbling."
The team made Matthew officially part of their team by giving him warmups, hats, and a bathing suit at the "drafting" ceremony on the pool deck prior to Trinity's home opener. During the event, the audience and team members cheered loud for Matthew as he accepted his gear. Matthew's family exclaimed, "He looks so happy!" as he sat on the podium smiling.