Tartans' Little Captain Is Inspirational
Team captains lead by example, and such is the case with Brock Kitterman, a 9-year-old who is the youngest Tartan football player and co-captain in school history.
Brock, who “officially” became a member of the team last spring after signing a letter of intent in front of the players and staff, was paired with Carnegie Mellon by Team IMPACT, an organization that matches courageous kids facing life threatening or chronic illness with collegiate athletic teams to help lift their spirits and improve their quality of life.
At 12 weeks old, Brock’s parents were told he was completely blind and the doctors diagnosed him with Bilateral Retinoblastoma, an incredibly rare eye cancer. During chemotherapy treatments, one of the agents he received to fight the disease significantly compromised his hearing.
Brock is legally blind with 20/200 vision in his right eye and 20/400 vision in the left. He can hear without his hearing aids, but misses a lot.
When his mother, Tammy, realized that he was struggling with his peers, she decided to reach out to Team IMPACT, which placed him with CMU.
“We were certainly skeptical at first, but after meeting the guys from the team and the coaching staff, we knew we had been paired with a great team at a great school,” she said.
Brock has been immersed in the entire Carnegie Mellon football team experience. He attended and participated in picture day. He hangs out with his “teammates” on and off the field, and helps get out the pads and pants for the team. He even gets to ride in the golf cart used to transport equipment.
Outside of school and attending football practices, Brock enjoys spending time with his family, friends and pets. He also likes competing in triathlons, playing video games, listening to books, and is a rollercoaster enthusiast.
A group from the Tartan football team surprised him at one of his triathlon races when they arrived to cheer him on. After the race was over, they again surprised Brock with a trip to Kennywood.
“I have never let Brock go anywhere without me, but the guys have been so great and I knew they would have a great time and take good care of Brock,” Tammy said.
At Kennywood, Brock rode the Black Widow seven times in a row.
“He had our stomachs turning,” said football senior and co-captain Dustin Schneider. “Brock is an amazing kid. He went through more struggles prior to his first birthday than some people experience in a lifetime, and the fact that every time he is around the team he is smiling ear-to-ear is truly inspirational.”
Players and coaches say Brock has been an incredible addition to the Carnegie Mellon football team, and they are looking forward to having him around for many years to come.
“The Carnegie Mellon football team is thrilled to add Brock to the Tartan football family,” said head coach Rich Lackner. “I hope that our team has made as big an impact on Brock as he has made on us.”
“Brock is an inspiration to all those associated with the Carnegie Mellon football team,” Lackner continued. “We are ALL blessed to have Brock in our lives.”
For more about Team IMPACT, visit www.goteamimpact.org/.
(Pictured) Tartan captains Fred Bolio (83), Tim Swanson (2), Dustin Schneider (49) and Alexander D’Angelo (54) stand in solidarity and support of their newest co-captain, Brock Kitterman (center), who was paired with CMU through Team IMPACT, an organization that matches kids facing life-threatening or chronic illness with athletic teams to help lift their spirits and improve their quality of life.
By Lauren Butler