Carson becomes the newest Spartan

By Eric Christiansen

NORTH MANCHESTER -- Introducing ... from Wabash, Indiana … No. 44 … Carson McKee!

Five-year old Carson McKee is the newest member of the Manchester University mens soccer team after signing a two-year deal with the NCAA Div. III Manchester Spartans.

McKee, the son of Jarrod and Heather McKee, was formally introduced to Spartan fans Sunday, Aug. 25, at a press conference where family and friends joined him in celebration of his two-year contract.

Manchester University President Dave McFadden welcomed the crowd and media to the signing event.

“A lot of you are Manchester students, some of you are neighbors to Manchester – we are glad you are here,” McFadden said. “We have a lot of dedicated athletes but we talk about them first and foremost as student-athletes – students first. They work hard at both of them, but always the person comes first.

“That is what we are doing today with Carson,” McFadden added. “Carson, you are only five years old. It's going to be a long time before you can contribute on the field, but as a person, you can be a part of our team at Manchester.”

Men's head soccer coach Corey Brueggeman said he is excited to have Carson join his team.

“Right away I could tell he was fast, he was very smart and he loved sports,” he said. “All of those things made me realize that was going to be a big impact for joining our team.

“Some of you know his background and history,” Brueggeman said. “He's very resiliant, very courageous and very brave. Those are three things we expect from our team every time.”

Carson was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.

Brueggeman explained that Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious illnesses with college athletic teams contacted him about the idea of working with his team and the McKees.

“Right away I was nervous [and] unsure if we were able to have the resourses and team environment to get Carson on board,” Brueggeman said. “Once we committed to it and I was able to meet the family, I was so excited. ... Their entire family is very loving, very fun and very energetic, and that's exactly the type of people we want to be around our soccer team.”

Team IMPACT Executive Director Seth Rosenweig sent a letter to Carson congratulating him on his selection at Manchester.

“The mens soccer team at Manchester University … is thrilled to be adding Carson to their roster this season,” the letter read. “Your teammates have big goals for this season and know that adding you to their roster is the first step in achieving those goals.

“Team IMPACT is also excited to have you join our family. You are a fighter, Carson, and it is your 'never give up' attitude and unbreakable spirit that make you an ideal teammate,” Rosenweig continued. “Your teammates are counting on you, Carson.

Your commitment to your team is what makes you so special...”

Jarrod McKee, Carson's father, was beyond thrilled for Carson.

“This is a great day for our family to be a part of this with Carson,” he said. “It's such a big day for Carson just being part of something that's bigger than himself. I think it's really cool for these student-athletes to be exposed to something like this.”

McKee said Carson was excited for the day and the time he would spend with his new teammates.

“He was really pumped up,” McKee said. “He has a lot of fun with them and jokes around with them in just the short amount of times we've spent with them. He's looking forward for this year.”

McKee said Carson is on a medical regimen that includes 30-minute chest percussions, one in the morning and one at night.

He also takes medication with every meal that allows Carson's pancreas to absorb fat soluble vitamins.

However, Carson is not limited physically right now with his condition.

“The best thing for Carson throughout his life is physical activity,” McKee said. “It's the best therapy for him to be active. He's going to be involved in every sport that he can. This is going to help his condition exponentially as he gets older – the more active he is, the better.”

McKee said Carson enjoys all sports beyond soccer.

“He's a typical Hoosier – loves basketball and baseball – just anything to be active,” he said.

Carson also spends time in activities with his brother Camden and sister Collins.

Brueggeman concluded the afternoon with a message to Carson.

“From the day that I met him, I know that Carson will be willing, and hopefully make a huge impact on our program,” he said. 

“With my enjoyment, I'd love to offer you a spot on the Manchester soccer team. And to be able to be part of the team, we are going to a have you sign right here.”

After Carson signed the contract, he became a Spartan.

Posted on 2019 Aug 28