MEDFORD - Grace Zinck, a courageous 14-year old girl from Melrose, Massachusetts, was drafted by the Tufts University women's lacrosse team on Friday (September 28) at the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center.
Grace and the team were connected through Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization which works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by pairing them with collegiate athletic teams.
A celebratory press conference was held in the film room on the third floor of the Tisch Center, and it was standing room only. Upbeat music was pumping through the speakers as members of several Tufts teams, Tufts administrators, friends of Tufts and Jumbo himself arrived and filled the room. Grace, joined by her parents Cathy and Brian and siblings Brendan and Audrey, soon entered to a rousing applause.
Team IMPACT CEO Seth Rosenzweig was on hand to greet the guests and said, "Tufts does it right. This is the 15th match we've made with Tufts teams and it's always a special event."
Friends as students at Tufts in the late 1980s, Jay Calnan, Kris Herman, Dan Kraft, Robert Tishman and Dan Walsh helped found Team IMPACT. Calnan was at Grace's draft event and was introduced by Rosenzweig.
Jumbo senior Courtney Grygiel and junior Lily Baldwin served as MC's of the event and noted that it was a perfect kickoff to Homecoming Weekend at Tufts. They described Grace as sweet, loving, athletic, silly and fun.
"We met her for the first time three weeks ago and she is the perfect match," Baldwin said.
Tufts Senior Associate Athletic Director / SWA Alexis Mastronardi spoke next and told the audience about her trip with the team to Pennsylvania last May for an NCAA Tournament second round game. The Jumbos fell just one goal shy in a 12-11 loss that ended their season. Mastronardi noted that won't happen in the future.
"We were missing one piece of the puzzle, and it was Grace," she said.
Grygiel then shared the team's values system, which includes the mantra "Give Left, Give Right." That explains how the team succeeds together, and Grace became a part of that when she signed her letter of intent to join the Jumbos while smiling ear to ear. The team then presented her with a #10 jersey, her favorite number. As a team member, Grace will attend Jumbo practices, games, team dinners, events, and more.
"Grace has already inspired us and we're looking forward to having her as a part of our team this year," Tufts head coach Courtney Shute said before introducing a video which highlighted the team's togetherness and the fun they have. "We know that you're ready to have fun with us."
At the end of the ceremony, it was clear that the Zinck family had enjoyed it.
"I wasn't expecting this," Grace's dad Brian said. "Thank you for making our weekend."
Tufts University teams have drafted children through Team IMPACT since its beginning in 2011. Learn more about the organization at http://www.goteamimpact.org/.
Women's Lacrosse Team Impact Draft Day