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“We have decided, with our No. 1 draft pick for gopher softball, for the 2014-2015 season, we have chosen Maisy Martindale,” Gopher softball head coach Jessica Allister said, according to WCCO.
Six-year-old Maisy, of Elk River, signed an official letter of intent Saturday to join the Gophers. The event was put on with the help of Team Impact, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that matches children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with college sports teams.
Maisy, who loves One Direction and is always smiling, has had 28 surgeries, including three skull reconstructions. She had a tracheotomy and was on a ventilator until she was 3. She's currently dependent on a pacemaker and has to get nutrients supplemented through a g-tube, the U of M said in a news release. In the next few years, Maisy will likely need another skull reconstruction and have the battery in her pacemaker changed.
Even with everything she's been through, she's still "very social and outgoing little girl who touches everyone she meets. She truly epitomizes what it means to be a fighter and is sure to be an inspiration to all her teammates," the release said.
Maisy will join the players at practices, games and at team get-togethers. She's already taken charge, bossing them around and cheering them on.
"It will mean the world to her to know that people are out there rooting for her and cheering for her," said Julie Martindale, Maisy's mom, told KSTP.
Maisy's older brother Elijah is also being recruited by the Gophers. He's expected to be matched with the Gopher football team through Team Impact, the station says.