The Virginia Cavaliers Baseball team is adding one more name to their travel roster as they head into the 2021 College World Series: Parker Staples.

Parker, then 8, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma in December of 2017 and signed with Virginia Baseball through Team IMPACT in April of 2018. When Parker first joined the team, he was reserved, struggled with self-confidence, and felt nervous to try new things—but you would never know that meeting the 12-year-old now.

In the years since, Parker and his teammates have spent hours together cheering each other on at baseball games and practices; grabbing pizza and ice cream together; tossing around the football or baseball when they meet up in person; playing online video games when they’re socially distanced; and regularly checking in through text, FaceTime, and video chats. Parker’s bond to his teammates has increased his self-confidence and overall health—emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The team provided Parker and his family support, love, and laughter through countless hospital stays, surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, emergency room visits, and scheduled appointments as Parker fought— and ultimately beat—cancer. Parker celebrated with his teammates through big wins, guided them through tough losses, and provided perspective and a team mentality to push yourself and never—ever—give up. Now, through Team IMPACT, Parker and his teammates will be side-by-side for yet another major milestone: competing in the 2021 College World Series.

As the Cavaliers continue to fight for their second National Championship, they know they can count of their biggest fan and bravest teammate, Parker, to be cheering them on from the stands as they take the field against Tennessee this Sunday in Omaha.

Team IMPACT's Parker Staples signs with Virginia baseball

About Team IMPACT Team IMPACT is the only U.S. nonprofit that tackles the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing serious and chronic illness by matching them with a college athletic team. Our two-year therapeutic program complements a child’s medical treatment, allowing the child to develop relationships and skills that help them complete the full circle of healing. Through participation in Team IMPACT’s clinically informed program, children experience a true sense of belonging, resulting in increased empowerment, normalization, health promotion, and resilience. Families feel connected and supported as their child achieves individualized goals, while experiencing the joy of team camaraderie and inclusion; and student athletes gain perspective and inspiration, as well as lessons in adversity and resilience. Founded in 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 2,100 children with 700+ colleges and universities in 49 states, impacting more than 60,000 student athletes.