Walsh officially becomes a member of 'The Brotherhood'
NORTON, Mass. – Earlier this season, the Wheaton College men's lacrosse team "drafted' Mansfield, Massachusetts native Ezra Walsh through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges, Together), a New England based nonprofit that aims at improving the quality of life for kids facing life-threatening illnesses and chronic illnesses through the power of team.
"Since the beginning of the season here at Wheaton – during the fall (semester), we've been evaluating one player, who we believe can make a tremendous impact in the program here and we brought Ezra in to see the facility and look at the weight room and watch a practice and spend some time with the team," said Wheaton College men's lacrosse head coach Jamie Lockard on Monday afternoon at the team's introductory press conference for Walsh.
"After spending some time with Ezra and having him with the team, (we) realized because of his character and energy and enthusiasm and being able to battle adversity with a smile, we figured he'd be a good fit for our Wheaton lacrosse program," implored Lockard.
The Lyons' head coach, who is currently in his third season with the program, continued speaking about Walsh's journey to joining the team.
"He's had a stick during the spring (season), practicing on the sidelines and being at practices and games, so we've decided that after talking with the coaching staff and captains to make Ezra an official member of the Wheaton College men's lacrosse program."
Walsh, who is eight years old, was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), a generic disorder that causes tumor growth, two weeks after he was born in May, 2005. Luckily, Walsh hasn't developed any tumors recently, but continues to monitor his condition with the assistance of various specialists. In 2013, Walsh met with 36 different specialists, but luckily received positive news at the conclusion of each visit. Unfortunately, there is no cure for NF1, but that hasn't stopped Walsh from thinking optimistically.
Prior to being "drafted" by the Lyons, Walsh began battling heel/toe cord issues, which have forced him to wear leg braces at night. He has since spent time working with physical therapists for his foot drop and hand/eye coordination.
WELCOME TO THE BROTHERHOOD
Monday was a special day for Walsh, who was formally introduced to the team at an afternoon press conference in the Haas Athletic Center.
Sitting in front of members of the men's lacrosse team, Director of Athletics and Recreation John Sutyak '00 and Assistant Director of Athletics/SWA Lisa Yenush '90, Walsh fielded questions about joining the Blue and White.
"(It feels) good," said Walsh when asked about becoming the newest member of the men's lacrosse program. "(My favorite part of the season has) been the beginning."
Walsh, who was all smiles throughout the process, had his grin extended when sophomore Paul Gray (Danbury, Conn./Millbrook School) welcomed him to 'brotherhood.'
"It's been a pleasure (having Ezra) on the field this year;" said Gray. "I know you've brought a lot of energy and it's really helped the guys out throughout the year and we look forward to having (him) apart of our team for the next couple of years, so thank you for coming to our brotherhood."