PROVIDENCE – A Burrillville elementary school student has signed on with the Providence College men’s soccer team, and had the chance to spend quality time with his fellow Friars this week at practices and games, as well his own birthday party.
Jacoby Mercier joined the Friars through Team IMPACT, a non-profit program that matches children facing serious illness and disability with college athletic teams across the country.
Mercier, who lives in Pascoag and is a student at Callahan Elementary School, has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a rare disease that causes tumors to form in vital organs of the body.
Mercier was officially introduced at a signing day press conference on Monday, August 22 at the Ruane Friar Development Center by head coach Craig Stewart. He will now participate in activities with the team including games, practices, and other events, through a multiyear program that already had the young player out for warm ups, cool downs and the starting lineup this week.
“We’re really excited to partner with Team IMPACT and officially welcome Jacoby to the Friar Family,” said Stewart during the announcement.
IMPACT, a national organization that has connected more than 2,300 children with college athletic programs since its founding in 2011, asked for Mercier’s top two sports and top three schools before matching him with the team, his mother, Jerilyn Dupuis, explained.
“Jacoby received his top two choices: soccer and Providence College,” Dupuis said. “He was over the moon excited for the opportunity.”
Based on a clinical model, Team IMPACT aims to guide a symbiotic relationship between the teams and children focused on socialization, empowerment, and resilience. PC has worked with the organization for the past ten years, with participants building relationships across men’s basketball, dance, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, swim and dive, and women’s volleyball teams.
“We are proud to work alongside Providence College, their athletic department and coaching staff to create lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes between student-athletes and their Team IMPACT teammates,” said Danielle Hardee, regional director of Team IMPACT’s programs for the northeast.
Mercier is the 11th young athlete to be matched with a program at the school and according to Dupuis, team members have already “gone above and beyond,” to make him feel welcomed. Players communicate with Mercier almost daily, she said, and even attended his recent birthday party.
On Thursday, August 26, Mercier attended his first college soccer game with his team.
“These young men are wonderful mentors and big brothers to Jacoby already, Dupuis said.
The organization has worked with children in 49 states, impacting more than 60,000 student-athletes. Those who know a child or team who may be interested participating should visit www.teamimpact.org.