Six-year-old Joslyn Wassler jumped into the media room at the Cintas Center on Wednesday.
She was joined by her siblings Carter and Preston, her parents, and the Xavier University women’s basketball team.
Joslyn explored the room while her brothers tested the mics on the podium before Joslyn snagged the middle seat with her name on it, a beaming smile to a room full of people wanting to see her.
“This is an exciting day for our program,” began Xavier women’s basketball coach Melanie Moore. “We have signed a new member for our women’s basketball team.
“This new player is strong, energetic and brave and we are delighted to add her to our squad.”
Pen in hand, Joslyn signed her letter of intent and Moore presented her with a tiny No. 10 jersey, which she proudly donned.
“Are you excited?” Moore asked her newest player.
“Yeah,” Joslyn said, nodding her head up and down for added effect.
“We want you to know Joslyn that you now have 14 sisters who will be there for you. Because that’s what Xavier women’s basketball is all about. It’s about family and a sisterhood. So these are all your sisters,” Moore said, pointing to her players.
Moore opened the press conference for questions, the first coming from Shai Beeler, a senior Musketeer guard.
“How does it feel to finally be a part of Xavier’s women’s basketball team? Is it exciting?” asked Beeler.
Joslyn’s smile reappeared as she said one word: “Happy.”
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The reason Joslyn joins the Musketeers is because of the Team Impact program. It is an organization that connects children facing serious illnesses and disabilities with collegiate athletic teams to create a lasting, life-changing experience.
Moore heard about the idea from Xavier’s football program, which is also involved with Team Impact.
“I spoke to the team at our retreat and everyone said absolutely without hesitation. And we got in touch with the leader of Impact and they said they have a good match for us who loves basketball, loves Xavier and it was perfect win-win for both of us,” Moore said.
Joslyn needs to meet the team. She came to the Cintas Center for trick-or-treat night. She made the team a video that Moore played for her before the season opener.
“We’re talking about being warriors, and this little one is a warrior,” Moore said. “We hope to make them proud of how hard we play on the pitch.”
Joslyn will take part in training, she will sit near the team bench at home games and be involved as much as possible.
“Joslyn, she has a lot of medical stuff,” her mother Lauren said. “That’s why we’re involved. She has a lot of appointments and therapies and surgeries.
“Her last surgery was her 49th and the team made a video for her to watch just before the surgery. So it’s just a little something to lift her spirits and help her be brave.”
Joslyn has struggled with a number of health issues since she was born. She has esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula, a condition affecting her esophagus, stomach and lungs, and she is also battling eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic condition affecting her esophagus. She has tracheomalacia, which can cause her airway to collapse when she exhales, coughs, or cries.
Joslyn was born with a cloacal malformation, a very rare birth defect in women, and a ligated spinal cord that required surgery when she was two and a half years old. She has had surgery to repair hip dysplasia and lives with extreme acid reflux, which can make her vomit if she coughs, cries, or laughs too much, or if she runs and jumps too much non-stop.
Despite everything she has been involved with and continues to be involved with, Joslyn’s spirit has been a welcome addition to Xavier’s team. It’s a relationship that already means a lot to the Musketeers and Joslyn.
“There are things that we have to do medically with her on a daily basis, and like today, it was easy,” Lauren said. “It was like, ‘Hey, we have to get this done because today you can visit your basketball friends.'”
Joslyn was there on Saturday to watch her team beat Old Dominion and improve to 4-0 this season.