While many had their eyes on who was signing to play where on college football signing day, the Arcadia University men’s soccer team announced a signing of its own, as 11-year-old Jonny Nagrant officially became a member of the Knights’ program.
The Collegeville native, who was teamed up with Arcadia’s men’s soccer program through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, traveled to Glenside to meet his new teammates on Feb. 4. While on campus, he got to know his new teammates over some games and pizza in the Commons game room before taking in a men’s basketball game at Alumni Gymnasium, where he was formally introduced at halftime.
The purpose of the Friends of Jacklyn Foundation is to pair children battling pediatric brain tumors with college and high school sports teams across the country. The aim is to create lasting relationships between the student-athletes, the children and their families, which will offer support and friendship through their fight with the disease.
In 2010, Jonny underwent a five-hour surgical procedure to remove a mass in his brain later found to be ependymoma, a rare and resistant tumor. Along with the removal of the mass, he has gone through 30 rounds of proton therapy and two eye surgeries, among countless other difficulties. Jonny has been extremely brave through all that he has gone through and can now say that he is four-and-a-half years cancer free. He will never hear the words cured or remission, however, but he continues to be a positive light for other children with cancer and everyone else around him.
Head men’s soccer coach Rob Nydick stated, “The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation does amazing work and it was an honor to be asked to partner with them. It was great to meet Jonny for the first time and let him hang out with the guys on the team. We are looking forward to having him back on campus as much as his schedule allows in the upcoming months. He is a brave young guy and he fit right in with our group. I know that he especially enjoyed beating guys twice his age in FIFA and ping pong as well! We are proud to say he is a part of our program.”