The University of California, Davis baseball team announced the signing of a local product over the weekend. He's young, energetic, and he's sure to breathe new life into the clubhouse even though he's battling a life threatening disease.
Jetty "J.J." Huish, a 13-year-old Roseville product, was playing it cool on a breezy Saturday afternoon before becoming the youngest member of the Aggies baseball program.
Redshirt junior outfielder, Ryan Hooper, described Huish as "one of the high level recruits in California" during the "Draft Day" event made possible with the help of a different team, Team IMPACT.
Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, and Play Against Challenges Together) is a Boston-based nonprofit organization that helps children living with serious or chronic illness build relationships with college athletes and teams.
"I commit to UC Davis," said Huish over the microphone with UC Davis baseball head Coach Matt Vaughn and Director of Athletics Kevin Blue by his side.
Huish is living with X-linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency or XSCID. The rare disease is characterized by genetic mutations that lead to defects in the immune system's ability to read signals from the body and respond to infections. Approximately 40-100 babies are diagnosed with SCID annually. Huish was diagnosed in 2004 and has been traveling to doctor's appointments at UC San Francisco Medical Center for several years now.
He has already undergone multiple bone marrow transplants and gene therapy, an experimental treatment that involves chemotherapy and inserting genes into cells
"It's official," said coach Vaughn, after Huish signed his Letter of Intent.
Sports has served as major support system for Huish who had a chance to hang out with his favorite NFL team, the New Orleans Saints, and meet quarterback Drew Brees last August.
"Are you guys big on handshakes?" Huish asked his new baseball teammates after formally announcing his commitment.
Huish is now part of the Aggie family, decked out in blue and gold, already knocking first impressions out of the park. He even cracked a joke after his hat wouldn't fit for photos at the Draft Day event.
"I change my commitment," said Huish, before the crowd roared with laughter.
Huish and the Aggies not only entering an athletic commitment, it's a commitment to friendship. Through Team IMPACT, the Aggies have dedicated themselves to serving as a new source of strength for Huish in his battles off the field. But the 13-year-old might end up teaching the UC Davis baseball players a little something about courage in the face of adversity in return.
UC Davis baseball opens its season on Friday, February 16, with a three-game series at CSU Bakersfield. The Aggies' first home game is Monday, February 19, against Stanford.