On Friday evening, the Newman University men’s basketball team signed their youngest recruit ever.
11-year-old Julian Randle was lit up with camera flashes as he signed his name on the dotted line. Randle voiced his excitement for this moment and said he would bring leadership and friendship to the team.
Randle was paired with the Jets through a program called Team IMPACT, which is a program that matches children who are battling life-threatening or chronic illnesses to a university sports team to help improve their quality of life. The child comes to practices, attends games, takes part in the locker room pep talks and generally becomes as much of a teammate as possible.
Head coach R.J. Allen knew the Randle family before Team IMPACT came into play and is ecstatic to be a mentor for Julian. “Our main goal is to make him feel a part of our team," said Allen. "We just want him to feel like he’s one of the guys in hopes that his experience and time with us will alleviate any stress or tension that he’s going through as he goes through his medical treatments.”
Randle suffers from a rare autoimmune disease called juvenile dermatomyositis that attacks his muscles and organs. In addition to his prescribed medications, he undergoes chemotherapy treatments and injections once a month for his condition.
Basketball is in his blood and he’s excited to get involved in the sport again through this opportunity with Team IMPACT and the Jets. Not only will this experience benefit Randle but the student-athletes as well.
According to the Team IMPACT website, "The child gains great strength, camaraderie and support, and the student-athletes are taught lessons about courage, resiliency and life perspective that they can’t learn in a classroom."
Allen explained, “We want him to look forward to coming to practice every day and being around the guys every day. We want him to focus on being an 11-year-old boy.” He noted that traveling with the team may be difficult, but as for practices, home games and team outings, Randle is welcome to join.
The Team IMPACT website states, "Through a structured relationship management methodology, we establish and cultivate these relationships to ensure a successful experience for the families and teams involved."
Randle said he looks forward to the fun and trust this will bring to his life.