BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University men's lacrosse program has welcomed a new member to the team, drafting 6-year-old Grayson Oglesbee (Marblehead/Danbury Elementary) as the newest Yellow Jacket through Team IMPACT.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit organization that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life changing outcomes. Grayson was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome when he was just eight weeks old.
According to the Williams Syndrome Association's website, it is a genetic condition present at birth that is characterized by various medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning challenges. Williams Syndrome children also have striking verbal abilities and highly social personalities, making Grayson a perfect fit for the team.
"I think it's been a great interaction, seeing him with all the guys and how they've accepted him as part of the team," said mother Elisa Oglesbee. "They've been teaching him the rules of the game, showing him how to pick up ground balls and score goals."
Grandma Julie added, "To me, it was the instant connection. Having only been with them a few times, the team is just amazing. What the team does to boost his morale has made quite the difference."
Coming into his first year at the helm in Berea, head coach Trey Keeley had already seen Team IMPACT's involvement with several NCAA programs in the Midwest and heard about the benefits for all the parties involved – the children, the teams and the student-athletes themselves.
"Taking over a successful program that wins games was great," Keeley said, "but I wanted to make sure our guys understand that success isn't all about the scoreboard."
The scoreboard wasn't in the Yellow Jackets' favor Saturday afternoon as BW suffered a 16-4 loss to Ohio Northern University on Seniors' and Parents' Day. However, Grayson was able to provide a little perspective as he took in his first men's lacrosse game and continued to bond with his new team.
"Seeing him after our loss on Saturday immediately brought a smile on my face," Keeley said. "He puts things in perspective for our guys during tough times. Grayson is a happy kid who has been through, and continues to go through, challenges in his life that our guys haven't had to deal with. Seeing him continue to express himself, be happy, interact with others and bring smiles to our players faces as been a treat."
"He is just one 6-year-old, but I think he is helping out 18- to 22-year-olds grow into men," Keeley added.
"I think he makes a really big impact because he comes in with a smile on his face every day," said sophomore attack Justin Presutti (Williamsville, N.Y./Williamsville South), who is a member of the leadership team working with Grayson. "He's always happy, having a good time, joking around with us and making us laugh. After a tough game on Saturday, we came off the field and saw him and we just smiled. He just brings that sense of excitement for everybody on the team."
Monday's draft day festivities included a press conference where, surrounded by members of the men's lacrosse team, Grayson signed his National Letter of Intent to officially become part of the team himself. Grayson will wear the No. 14 jersey and attend practices, games, team dinners, events and more.