The women’s basketball program held a press conference to welcome the newest member of the 2017-18 team on Sunday, Oct. 22. By way of a program called Team IMPACT, women’s basketball selected 9-year-old Mercadize Paver to be part of the team.
— Capital Crusaders (@CapCrusaders) October 23, 2017
Paver is from nearby Marysville, Ohio, and suffers from cystic fibrosis. Through Team IMPACT, Paver was able to become part of the team. By doing so, she will be able to attend practices, team dinners, and other events with the women’s basketball team.
Team IMPACT is a nonprofit organization based in Boston that helps children with life-threatening diseases by pairing them with college athletic teams. By doing this, the children form important bonds with their college teammates. Team IMPACT, sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, has partnered with more than 1,000 college teams across the country and seeks to produce life-changing outcomes by pairing children with these teams.
The press conference began with the official announcement of Paver’s selection by Capital University. She was given her very own Capital University shirt and pair of basketball shorts, similar to those worn by the rest of the team.
“[Paver] puts things in perspective for us,” women’s basketball head coach Dixie Jeffers said, “… as to how blessed we are as athletes, to be able to breathe freely.”
Jeffers also said that Paver was an inspiration to the team, as well as “an instant fit” upon her selection. Mercadize’s mother, Sarah Paver, also weighed in on the draft.
“This is a very big thing for us,” her mother said. “It means more than anybody even knows.”
The press also talked to Mercadize herself, who appeared to being thoroughly enjoying draft day. When asked about her season goals, Paver replied that she aimed to “score as many hoops” as she could.
In addition to her enthusiasm for the team, Paver presented herself as quite the offensive powerhouse. The draft was sealed with an official letter of intent, signed by Paver and Coach Jeffers.
Though the press conference lasted under fifteen minutes, it is safe to say that Paver and the Capital women’s basketball program will have a positive influence on each other for the duration of the season and beyond. She has not even set foot on the court and is already having an effect on her new teammates.
“This program not only stands for us in this room … but Mercadize and her family,” senior guard Annika Wachtman said of Team IMPACT and the draft process that brought Paver to the team. “… it encourages [us] to reach beyond this community and be leaders elsewhere.”