Minium: The ODU basketball team adds a new member: Brandon Nowlan, 10, resident of Va. Beach

Through Harry mini

At ten, you shouldn’t have to worry about falling for fear of cutting yourself. You shouldn’t have to worry about every bruise, knowing that you might be bleeding internally.

You should not have to have an infusion every week or go to the emergency room frequently.

Instead, you should be playing with your friends, running and jumping, brawling, or playing dodge ball.

But that’s not the life of 10-year-old Brandon Nowlan. Since the day he was born he has been pushed and pushed by doctors and nurses far too many times to be counted. And he can’t go out and play like most kids.

He suffers from hemophilia, a rare blood disorder that usually occurs in men. Because his blood lacks certain proteins, it does not clot well and his condition is particularly serious.

Nowlan is a shy fifth-grader at Providence Elementary School in Virginia Beach who often can’t play with his friends.

“I worry about him every day he is in school,” said his mother, Eileen Nowlan. “I worry about him when he’s with his friends. I just worry about him whenever I’m not with him.”

But from Wednesday afternoon, her life got a little brighter. He became an “official” member of the Old Dominion University basketball team, and the Monarchs aim to change his life.

Her mother contacted a group called Team Impact when she read on Facebook that another child had been adopted by a college sports team. Team Impact then contacted Amy lynch, an academic advisor who works with the ODU basketball team, and “Miss Amy,” as basketball players call her, have proposed that the Monarchs adopt Brandon.

Coach Jeff Jones okay – “it was obvious,” he said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, there was a “signing” ceremony at the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center.

Brandon toured with the team for about 20 minutes before the ceremony, and in doing so, the players fatherly protected him from ricochet rebounds.

His face turned into a big smile when he signed his “letter of intent”.

“By signing this Letter of Intent,” Jones said, reading the letter, “you are considered a member of Old Dominion University Basketball. This title requires you to conduct yourself with pride, honor, respect, sportsmanship and integrity which are expected when you are in the blue and the silver. “

He and Eileen then put on ODU hats and waved ODU jerseys, just like thousands of high school players do when they sign with varsity sports teams.

Lynch said being accepted into the program means Brandon will be on the ODU team for two years. He will come to train when he can and will attend all the matches he can. He’s never played basketball and isn’t quite familiar with the rules, but he quickly picks up on things.

Team impact

The idea is to create a bond between the players and Brandon that will let him know he’s not alone and that a whole college basketball team cares about him.

He has already taken players AJ Olivier II and Jaylin Hunter, whom he met several times on campus. When asked to do an interview for WTKR TV by reporter Marc Davis, he declined unless Oliver II and Hunter accompanied him.

“He befriended them, AJ and Jaylin,” Jones said. “And this friendship will grow and come closer.”

He didn’t say much in the interview, but when he did, it was meaningful: “It means a lot to me,” he said.

It also means a lot to Eileen and her husband, Quinn, and their daughter, Isabel, who is four years older than Brandon. They couldn’t be at the ceremony but like Brandon’s mom, they are doing their part in taking care of Brandon.

“Isabel is my little nurse,” said Eileen, who has learned a thing or two about nursing herself.

Team impact

Brandon has needed injections since being diagnosed. The medications he was taking years ago offered no more than a few days of protection, and he often ended up in the emergency room.

So Eileen pleaded for him and switched him to a new, more expensive drug that gives him a week of protection. It costs $ 75,000 per month, although luckily insurance covers most of the costs.

In order to limit her visits to medical centers, Eileen has trained in infusions and does them herself.

“I brew it once a week,” she said. “Every time he has an injury, I treat him again.”

I remember what it was like to get shot when I was a kid, and it was miserable. Imagine having to receive an infusion almost every week since you were born?

“No, it’s not fun for him, but he just sits there and lets me do it,” Eileen said. “When he was younger it was a little hard to get him to stand still. Now that he knows what we’re doing and accepts it, it’s a lot easier.

“He’s such a soldier.

“What he went through makes you grow faster and mature faster.”

Eileen said she became emotional when he signed the letter of intent. She realized then that for two years her son will be loved and cared for by a group of varsity athletes.

“I was happy,” she said. “Brandon looked so happy.”

Looking at the players, you could tell they weren’t there just because they needed to be. They know Brandon’s condition. They feel for him and want to help him.

There was real joy on their faces. As is typical of a team coached by Jones, these guys have a ton of character.

Team impact

“We’re going to take care of him,” Oliver II said.

When asked what she hopes others will learn from what Brandon does, Eileen replied, “Just because you have hemophilia doesn’t mean you can’t do things. Yes, you have limits, but so do everyone. “

Jones has said there will be no limit to how he, his staff and players take care of Brandon.

“I hope it comes out of its shell a bit,” Jones said. “He’s so shy. I hope this turns out to be a really cool thing for him.

“This is not a photoshoot. It’s a relationship that we intend to continue beyond this year, beyond this season. It’s only just getting started. to see them grow and become more and more comfortable with all our players. “

Jones paused, then looked across the pitch as Brandon spoke with some of the players.

“There is nothing better than seeing a child smile,” he said, adding: “especially someone who has had the kind of bumps in the road that he has had to endure.”

Minium has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize during his 39 years at the Virginian-Pilot and has won 27 state and national writing awards. He covers ODU athletics for Follow him on Twitter @Harry_MiniumODU, Instagram @ hbminium1 or email [email protected]

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