The smallest member of the men’s ice hockey team is making a big impact.
John-Anthony Washburne, a 10-year-old diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is the team's biggest fan. He became an honorary member through Team Impact, a non-profit organization pairs chronically ill children with local college athletic teams to the benefit of both.
"He helps us more than he knows," said senior co-captain Keith Veronesi.
Head Coach Jim Ward said working with Washburne has taught the team many lessons.
“It gives you a different perspective on what you’re doing. It validates what I’m doing in terms of the lessons we try to teach the young men that we’re working with. It’s not just winning hockey games, it’s about how to work, how to help each other, how to communicate and be leaders,” Ward told FOX CT news.
Washburne told the news station that he loves to cheer on the players and watch them score goals.
The team enjoys spending time with Washburne away from the ice, too.
“During the week, we try to get together to play video games,” he said. “He’s a pretty good video game player – much better than us.”
Veronesi added, “He’s part of our team. He’ll be a part of our team after I graduate, after the guys behind me graduate.”