By: KYLIE CAMPBELL
The IU South Bend Titans Baseball team held a draft day and press conference in the Student Activities Center on Friday, September 20, and signed the newest member of the 2020 team, 5-year old Thomas Kabelis of New Carlisle, Indiana.
After signing his National Letter of Intent, Kabelis has now secured his spot with the Titans for 2 years. Thomas will be wearing jersey number 57 and will officially be the Titans’ youngest player on the team.
Kabelis was diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy at the age of 1 and a half, making daily tasks such as eating and physical activity difficult. As a result of this condition, he has also developed epilepsy.
After his most recent growth spurt, Kabelis has reached a plateau where his symptoms have slowed down.
However, “around puberty, when the body really needs the energy source again, that’s when he’ll start to have a lot more medical issues,” explains Kabelis’ mother Vanessa Robbins, “so for right now we’re just really excited to give him this opportunity and this experience and have this team to be there for him.”
Thomas’ family connected with the Titans through TeamIMPACT, a non-profit organization that links collegiate teams with children like Thomas facing severe and terminal illnesses.
The baseball team signed up for TeamIMPACT two years ago and had been eagerly waiting for this incredible opportunity.
“We got the email last March that Thomas was looking for a team to pair with and we jumped at the chance. We’re extremely excited to have Thomas as a part of it. Our guys are really excited about it and looking forward to it,” states Head Coach Doug Buysse.
Titans baseball found a perfect match in Thomas. When Senior Austin Thomas asked Kabelis his favorite sport, he responded without hesitation, “this one.”
Although this is the first time Titans baseball has participated in this program, this is not the first time an IU South Bend team has been involved with TeamIMPACT. The IU South Bend Men’s basketball team was paired with a boy named Braden and the Women’s basketball team was paired with Thomas’ older sister, Makayla, in 2015.
Coach Buysee explains the importance of organizations such as TeamIMPACT stating, “it gives him a chance to be a part of something, have 37 role-models in his life and it just makes him feel like he belongs with something. We’re going to make Thomas…a part of our team.”
The baseball team was given time to ask their newest teammate some questions at the press conference. The players tested his scientific knowledge, asking him three back-to-back shots regarding Newton’s first three laws. Kabelis started off his press conference and season 3 for 3 and knocked the pop-quiz out of the park.
“I thank everybody for coming. Titan baseball is extremely excited to have Thomas as a part of our program and we look forward to having you around and boosting our team GPA with your knowledge of physics,” Buysse tells Kabelis.
As the event came to an end, the entire team lined up to exchange high-fives, fist-bumps, and handshakes with Kabelis.
To learn more about the work that TeamIMPACT is doing, visit goteamimpact.org.