Five Maryland student-athletes were selected to be Team IMPACT fellows for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. 

The five Maryland Team IMPACT Fellows are:

  • Belle Bressler, Field Hockey (Team IMPACT Liaison)
  • Sophia LeBlanc, Gymnastics (Team IMPACT Event Day Coordinator)
  • Maddie Naumann, Volleyball (Team IMPACT Liaison)
  • Anthony Pecorella, Football (Team IMPACT Match Day Coordinator)
  • Robert Smith, Football (Team IMPACT Match Day Coordinator)

Team IMPACT tackles the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing serious and chronic illnesses by matching them with a college athletic team. Through a two-year therapeutic program that complements their medical treatments, children develop relationships and skills that help them complete the full circle of healing.

The Fellows will represent Team IMPACT to collaborate with the athletic teams, athletic department and greater campus community to raise awareness and increase program participation. In return, Team IMPACT provides opportunities for Fellows to build their skills in leadership, community organization, public speaking, and professional/career development, preparing them to be leaders in the workforce and beyond.

The Fellows’ goal for this year is to create larger community events where all the Team IMPACT children can come together at sporting events or movie nights, so that they can build a larger bond.

BELLE BRESSLER (FIELD HOCKEY)

Why did you apply to be a Team IMPACT Fellow?
“I chose to be a Team Impact Fellow to give back to the community around me and help represent Maryland in a very special way.”

What are you looking to accomplish in your role?
“This year I am hoping that we accomplish matching more of our sports teams and helping make a positive impact on these sick kids.”

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
“I hope to gain as much knowledge about how I can help these kids even outside of being a student athlete at Maryland and it’s exciting because working with these kids is something I’m passionate about.”

How will you be able to leave an impact?
“I hope to leave an impact by something as simple as a smile!”

SOPHIA LEBLANC (GYMNASTICS)

Why did you apply to be a Team IMPACT Fellow?
“I applied to be a Team IMPACT fellow because I thought it would be an amazing experience helping children with chronic illnesses. I wanted to support children to get the chance at being matched with a collegiate team. I saw that Team IMPACT was an organization with great values that I also wanted to become a part of.”

What are you looking to accomplish in your role?
“Through this fellowship, I want to spread awareness about Team IMPACT so that Team IMPACT can get more children matched to college teams. I also want to create events where Team IMPACT children can come to campus and spend more time with their teams and other athletes at Maryland.”

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
“I hope to gain long-term relationships with matched children on our campus through this experience. Additionally, I hope to facilitate these relationships with other athletes at Maryland.”

How will you be able to leave an impact?
“I hope to leave an impact by spreading awareness about this organization. Also, by helping connect children with a collegiate team that otherwise would probably not have had a chance at this experience.”

MADDIE NAUMANN (VOLLEYBALL)

Why did you apply to be a Team IMPACT Fellow?
“I applied to be a Team IMPACT Fellow my first semester at Maryland. The second I heard about Team IMPACT, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. There is a special place in my heart for children facing medical adversity because my little cousin was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was a year old. I was in sixth grade at the time he was diagnosed and it had a profound effect on me. Since then, I have always felt an intense desire to help children and hope to attend medical school after graduation and work in a pediatric subspecialty. I gravitated towards Team IMPACT because it combines two things I am incredibly passionate about—volleyball and children’s healthcare.”

What are you looking to accomplish in your role?
“I always look forward to planning fun events for the kids that are matched with teams at Maryland but now that I have been a part of Team IMPACT for almost three years, I am really trying to think big. I am originally from Austin, Texas and one goal I am looking forward to accomplishing this year is getting more teams and people from all over the country involved with Team IMPACT. My goal is to help Team IMPACT get national recognition and become a part of every student-athlete’s college experience since it has been such a huge and important part of mine. I think the University of Maryland is the perfect school to help lead the way in growing Team IMPACT’s brand recognition on a national scale so that more children, families, teams, and student-athletes can be a part of this amazing organization.”

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
“I have already gained so much from this experience. My Team IMPACT match, Simone, has already had such a big impact on me and my team. Simone’s resilient mindset and incredible amount of courage is something that truly motivates and inspires me to pursue my goals.”

How will you be able to leave an impact?
“I hope to leave an impact on all the children that I get to work with by helping them find confidence, joy, and courage in various aspects of their lives. I also hope to leave an impact on my teammates by sharing this experience with them. I want to prove that there are things in life so much bigger than sports and the effect we, as student-athletes, have on others is something we can use to make a positive difference. I hope to inspire empathy in those around me and show that we should do our best to also dedicate ourselves to the things we truly care about outside of our sport.”

ANTHONY PECORELLA (FOOTBALL)

Why did you apply to be a Team IMPACT Fellow?
“I applied to be a Team Impact Fellow, because our teammate, Cal Taylor, changed my life. Cal was matched with us by Team IMPACT two years ago. In that time, Cal and I have grown very close. Seeing that big smile on his face no matter what he was going through was astonishing. I knew I wanted to take on a bigger role in the organization, so I applied to be a fellow as a result.”

What are you looking to accomplish in your role?
“In my role as a fellow, I hope to make the experience for all matches on the UMD campus to have the best experience possible. I also want to work to bring the fellow matches closer together, because each of the kids will know what the other is going through.”

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
“I hope to learn more about how I can make this experience for those kids that much better. The world is constantly changing and we must adapt. Each of these matches have been to hell and back, so I hope to work with and learn from the kids.”

How will you be able to leave an impact?
“I plan to leave an impact by showing those kids going through it, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep fighting for what you believe is right!”

ROBERT SMITH (FOOTBALL)

Why did you apply to be a Team IMPACT Fellow?
“I applied to be a Team IMPACT Fellow because of the connection I established with my team’s match before I knew about how great Team IMPACT is. I joined because I wanted to connect with more kids and families like Cal.”

What are you looking to accomplish in your role?
“This year in my new role, I look forward to spreading awareness to not only people on campus, but all of the athletes at the University of Maryland. If this organization gets the buzz it deserves and everyone buys in, the heights that we can teach as a collective are limitless.”

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
“From this experience, I hope to gain perspective. It is about connecting and crossing paths with individuals you would never come across. This is an opportunity for me to not only count my blessings but become a blessing and light for others.”

How will you be able to leave an impact?
“I will leave an impact because for me this will not just be a 2 year connection with a match and their family. For me, this is a life long commitment  to not only my team’s matches, or even University of Maryland’s matches, but all matches across the nation. This is a lifelong relationship that will live on and be authentic.”