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2015 Today’s Top 10: Lauren Battista

The Bentley basketball star captured a national championship on the court, but left college with something far more valuable.

As a sophomore, Lauren Battista yearned to broaden her experience at Bentley University. Battista was already an emerging star on the basketball team and performing well in her classes, but she craved more. After hearing about Team IMPACT, a New England-based organization that matches children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses with a local college team, Battista found what she was looking for. She began as a campus ambassador, working as a liaison between the organization and Bentley athletics.

Shortly after getting involved, Battista and her teammates got the bittersweet news that a little girl with leukemia had been matched with them. She would become an honorary member of the team.

When Battista and her teammates, dressed in Bentley sweatshirts, bounded out of their cars at the child’s house for an initial meeting, there was still snow on the Massachusetts ground. The little girl and her brothers were huddled in the front window, eagerly awaiting their new friends’ arrival with handmade posters welcoming the team.

After a few minutes hiding behind their mother, the girl and her siblings eventually began talking to Battista and her teammates. They wanted to play outside and the team excitedly followed them out into the cold. Hours passed before it finally got too dark, but that didn’t stop the kids from begging to play a bit longer.

Battista says the relationship with the little girl that began on that snowy day changed her perspective as an athlete. “If we think we have a tough day and that we have it rough…seeing how strong she is and how strong the family is really put things into perspective,” she said.

As their relationship with the girl grew, so did the team’s success on the court. The Falcons captured the Division II national championship in 2014. Quick to share credit, Battista praised Team IMPACT’s role in their dream season. “Seeing what they go through inspired us to be the best we could on the court,” she said.

Years after that first snowy meeting, Battista still regularly exchanges emails with the girl, and hopes to catch a few games with her this season. Being involved with Team IMPACT will always be a defining part of Battista’s college experience.

“[It] gives so much to the kid and their family, but also to the team and the university,” she said.