Nov. 6, 2010
Makayla's Locker Dedication
TUCSON - The newest member of the University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team, three-year old Makayla Smith, got her very own locker today at McKale Center.
In a dedication ceremony on Saturday in the women's basketball locker room in McKale Center, Makayla's new locker was unveiled in front of the Smith family, the team, coaches, support staff and friends of the team.
"We value our relationship with Makayla, Jordan and the Smith family so very much," head coach Niya Butts said. "We look at this as a mutual support system. They are welcome to call us anytime they need something and the team knows Makayla, Jordan and the family will be in the stands cheering us on. Now, Makayla has a permanent place in locker room and we're looking forward to more opportunities to visit as a group."
Through the Friends of Jaclyn organization, the squad "adopted" Makayla and her family as a mutual support system. The team will invite Makayla and her family to a variety of events and is excited to have their support at many of the Wildcats' games this season. As Makayla enjoys her time with new friends, the team will be relying on her support throughout the season as she cheers them on from the stands.
Makayla's story is not a typical one. In May 2009, then two-year old Makayla was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. More than a year after her initial diagnosis, Makalya is still undergoing treatment and the family is hopeful about her recovery. The goal of Friends of Jaclyn is to create support networks and lasting relationships for these children and their families. The children matched with these teams get a unique opportunity to see first-hand what teamwork is all about while developing new friendships along the way.
The Wildcats welcomed Makayla, her sister, Jordan, and parents at an informal meeting in early August. At this meeting, Makayla and family were able to meet members of the coaching staff and players for the first time. Makayla and Jordan joined women's basketball players for a quick game of hide and seek. A formal adoption ceremony also took place at a team meeting for the family to meet the rest of the Wildcats. At this second meeting Makayla and Jordan, were able to go swimming and enjoy a meal with the UA student-athletes and coaching staff.
Arizona will play next when the Wildcats face Western State on Sun., Nov. 7, at 12:30 p.m., at McKale Center. For tickets to the Arizona Wildcat women's basketball games, call 800-452-2287.