Brandon Nowlan of Virginia Beach isn't able to play certain competitive sports. At 10 years old, he's battling hemophilia, a disorder that causes his blood to clot abnormally.
That's not keeping him from being part of a team.
Brandon signed a national letter of intent with Old Dominion men's basketball on Wednesday, joining the squad for the 2021-2022 season. The Monarchs learned of the young fan's condition through assistant Kieran Donohue, who is familiar with Team Impact, an organization that links children battling illness with sports teams in order to make a positive difference in their lives.
Old Dominion held a ceremony for Brandon at Mitchum Basketball Performance Center on Wednesday afternoon. He signed his letter, was presented with a hat and a jersey and shot around with his new teammates. It's an experience that was more than memorable for the 10 year old.
"Getting to join the team and play basketball with my teammates " is what he pointed out as the most enjoyable part of the experience.
"It has meant the world to us," added Brandon's mother, Eileen. "He's able to get the sportsmanship and the teamwork environment so he doesn't feel as alone in his journey through hemophilia."
It wasn't just a special day for the newest Monarch, but for his new teammates as well.
"The best thing about today was seeing Brandon smile," said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. "He's a little bit shy, but you could see he couldn't hold that smile back."
The players also enjoyed the experience, cheering on Brandon during a shoot-around and individually welcoming him to the roster during his ceremony. Jones said that stuck out to him as another big part of the day.
"The benefit that our guys get from interacting with him and seeing the smile and seeing that they can impact somebody's life in a positive way, I think that's immeasurable."
According to the CDC, hemophilia affects about one out of every 5,000 males at birth.
The Monarchs will host Brandon and his family during select practices and games throughout the season. They open their campaign on November 6, hosting Gannon.