Stonehill Field Hockey Drafts Brockton's Kassandra Jean-Baptiste from Team IMPACT

Ace and the Stonehill field hockey team welcomed its newest teammember Kassandra. Click the photo or here to view a photo gallery from her signing day with the Skyhawks.

Video of Kassandra being greeted by her new team and Ace!

Skyhawks welcome eight-year-old Brockton native as newest team member

EASTON, Mass. (October 2, 2012) – The Stonehill College field hockey team recently welcomed its newest teammate when it drafted eight-year-old Kassandra Jean-Baptiste, from nearby Brockton, through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges, Together) in a ceremony at the College. The field hockey team is the third Stonehill athletic program to sign a player through Team IMPACT, joining ice hockey and women's basketball who have drafted Berkley's Jake Quinn and Sharon's Lexi Simoes over the last year.

Kassandra, the daughter of Guerline Jean-Baptiste, is thrilled to become the newest member of the Stonehill field hockey team. She was born with Sickle Cell Anemia - a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to form in a crescent shape. The abnormal shaped red blood cells become fragile and in turn, deliver less oxygen to body tissue and can get stuck in small blood vessels that interrupt healthy blood flow. There is no cure for Sickle Cell but with regular check-up appointments at Children's Hospital in Boston for blood transfusions and shots to help increase her red blood cell count, Kassandra manages her illness as best as she can.

At the age of five, Kassandra suffered a stroke due to a very rare illness called, MoyaMoya disease - a condition that leads to blockage of the main blood vessels to the brain which can lead to seizures and strokes. As a result of her stroke, Kassandra suffered injury to her left side and had to re-learn how to walk and talk. Joining the Stonehill field hockey team has given her a boost to continue her fight against Sickle Cell and the opportunity to learn what it is like to be a part of a team.

Kassandra was welcomed by the Stonehill field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Shelly Morris who is in her fifth season at the College. Team advocates for Kassandra are senior Teresa McGinley (Sandwich, Mass./Bishop Stang), junior Chelsea Emery (New Hampton, N.H./Tilton School), sophomores Nicole Ciccia (Monroe, Conn./Lauralton Hall) and Jennifer Foley (Holden, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) and freshman Rachel Murphy (Worcester, Mass./Notre Dame Academy). The group will help Kassandra acclimate to her new team and have already started to plan some team activities.

"We're excited to have Kassandra as a part of the team," said Morris. "We have enjoyed having her around the team so far and are looking forward to not only introducing her to our sport, but taking some time to learn about what her interests are and incorporating them into some fun activities throughout the season and beyond that."

The team has already given Kassandra her own field hockey stick and she has been a regular on the sidelines at the Skyhawks home games, also attending some practices to get hands-on experience with her new sport.

"We want her to feel 100-percent welcome to our team and be a part of our team activities throughout the year," said McGinley. "She was understandably a little bit shy at first, but she has started to open up and it has been fun having her around."

Signing day activities included Kassandra signing her "Letter of Intent" to the field hockey program before joining her teammates for her first team dinner.

"We are looking forward to being role models and another support system for her," said Emery. "We have also enjoyed learning about her and her interests and making them a part of our team activities and events with her as well."

Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. Across the northeast it creates unparalleled team based support systems. Core to their model is harnessing the power of teamwork by matching these courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto local college athletic teams and become an official member of the team for the duration of their treatment and beyond.

Stonehill (5-6, 1-2 NE-10) is back in action tonight when it hosts American International College for a Northeast-10 Conference matchup at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m. The Skyhawks visit Assumption College on Saturday at 1 p.m., before a rematch with No. 6 Merrimack College on Monday at 1 p.m.