While battling a genetic disorder, a 12-year-old boy joined the University of Arizona Wildcats swim and dive team on Friday, Sept. 28 in McKale Center.
Recruit Colton Hoffman, 12, of Oro Valley, Ariz., was diagnosed with a genetic disorder in 2006. Through team IMPACT, along with the UA co-ed swimming and diving team, Hoffman was given a special draft-day ceremony to celebrate his addition to the team.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, Mass., that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of every child they can.
Family, friends and soon to be teammates of Hoffman, along with head coach Augie Busch, were all in attendance to watch him sign his national letter of intent, put his Arizona Wildcats hat on and say his first "Bear Down".
The UA swimming and diving team showed Hoffman from the beginning that he was already a part of their family. They clapped and cheered as he signed his NLI and asked him how it felt now to be a Wildcat.
His response? “Good.”
He also showed off his competitive nature when a teammate asked, “Colton, if you have a swimming race with coach Busch, would you beat him?”
Hoffman responded, “Yeah."
Parents Greg and Jen Hoffman said they were more than excited for their son to start his new journey.
“It makes me proud to actually see him happy. He doesn’t necessarily have a lot of other friends outside of this, so to see him making friends and connecting with all these college kids is great,” Greg Hoffman said.
After the ceremony, his new male teammates showed him to the men’s locker room and surprised him with his own locker and UA gear.
Busch said he is excited to have Hoffman on the team.
“I’m just so happy for Colton and his family; this an experience for Colton that he’s going to remember for the rest of his life. It means a lot to us as a staff, to our team to be able to just really shine a light," Busch said.
Now, as an official member of the team, he will attend Wildcats’ practices, games, team dinners, events and more.
Hoffman’s favorite part of this whole experience? He said proudly, “I got my own locker!”
Follow Maury Urcadez on Twitter