One of the many reasons I love college sports is how much it can affect the fans. From the little kiddos sitting in the stands who look up to the student-athletes, to the 50 year-old-men who have had season tickets since they graduated from college, everyone is full of passion and excitement. The love for college athletics is incredible. Something even more incredible, however, is how the student athletes take on honorary teammates.
Two of my favorite college teams, Kansas State University and Texas Christian University, have taken on some honorary teammates. The Kansas State football team has Mr. Kaiden Schroeder, 8 year-old Kansas boy who is battling leukemia. TCU baseball has Super Hero Micah Ahern, 5 year old boy who has been battling cancer for the past few years.
Kaiden became a Wildcat when Ryan Mueller, number 44, took a special interest in the young boy’s story. It all started from a message board, which shows how strong the digital connection is these days. Ryan found out about a post by Kaiden’s mom asking for some sort of Kansas State memorabilia, Ryan did one better. He brought Fiesta Bowl jerseys to Kaiden and his sister Ashlynn and hung out with them in the hospital. This was the start of a beautiful thing.
Over the past year, Ryan and his teammates have spent time FaceTiming with Kaiden, visiting his family in the hospital, bringing him to football games and most recently bring Kaiden out on the field for the Spring Game. This has to be one of the most heartwarming videos I have seen all year. I only wish I could have been in Manhattan to see it for myself.
Kaiden wears number 44 and takes the field. He runs 30 yards, “protected” by a huddle of Wildcats and scores! My words don’t do it justice, watch the KStateSports Instagram vid.
TCU baseball has a similar relationship with Micah. Micah and the baseball team connected through an organization called Team Impact. The organization reached out to Coach Schlossnagle and immediately he said the team wanted to get to know Micah. Fast forward a little while, Micah is now the first signed member of the class of 2027. He’s thrown out the first pitch at a TCU season opener. He frequents TCU baseball games whenever he can. His team raised over $12,000 during the Neuroblastoma 5K. He’s become a rock for the team, just as much as the team has become a rock for him.
Take a look in the stands on a game day when Micah is attendance and you will instantly feel happier. Micah is always surrounded by people and has a huge grin on his face. When the games are over, Micah is greeted by the team. His happiness is completely and utterly contagious. Micah is what it means to be a Horned Frog, he has spirit, he has heart and he has fight.
This is what makes college sports so special. It goes beyond the field, it goes beyond the Ws and Ls; it changes lives.