MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama State University Women's Volleyball team officially has a new member, 8-year-old Mollie Beth Preston of Wetumpka.
The little girl visited ASU Tuesday where she officially signed her official Letter of Intent in a ceremony attended by her fellow teammates and coaches.
The newest Hornet took part in Team Impact "Draft Day", put on by the Boston-headquartered national nonprofit Team IMPACT. The nonprofit's mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing serious and chronic illnesses through the power of team.
Mollie Beth was diagnosed with Immune Dysfunction in 2016, but she's not letting it slow her down. She's got a lot of work to do as an official member of the team like attending practices, games, team dinners, events, and more.
Head coach Penny Lucas-White and Interim Athletic Director Jennifer Lynne Williams welcomed Mollie Beth to the team with a No. 1 jersey. In return, Mollie Beth belted out her version of Rachel Platten's 'Fight Song' to claps from her teammates.
"We always talk about how we want to engage our constituents and this program right here gives us an opportunity to really work with a special young lady," said Williams, who added that in meeting Mollie Beth "she fit in from day one. I mean she was calling drills and telling girls what to do."
"It's a great experience," Mollie Beth said, turning shy.
"She's really not shy," Coach Lucas-White explained of the quietness. The shyness went out the window when she was asked to sing, though.
Mom Jessica Preston called the experience "a blessing", saying her little girl has made a lot of new friends. Her new teammates allow her to take a break from all the hospital and doctor visits brought on by two autoimmune diseases.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, MA that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes.
Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team.
Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom.