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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers add honorary recruit in special signing ceremony

Meshaw, a local 14-year-old girl, put pen to paper on Wednesday at BSU, where she signed on to join the Beavers as an honorary member of the women’s basketball team through the organization Team IMPACT.

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Meshaw, left, and her sister Jess share a laugh during Meshaw's honorary signing ceremony to join the Bemidji State women's basketball team on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at BSU.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Meshaw is officially a Bemidji State Beaver.

Meshaw, a local 14-year-old girl, put pen to paper on Wednesday at BSU, where she signed on to join the Beavers as an honorary member of the women's basketball team through the organization Team IMPACT.

“It’s really cool,” Meshaw said. “I love it. I love being a part of the team.”

Team IMPACT is a nationwide organization that tackles the emotional trauma and social isolation experienced by children facing serious and chronic illnesses by matching them with a collegiate athletic team. Meshaw was born with a genetic disorder where she lost her foot and also has a prosthetic leg, but she has now overcome that obstacle by striking a deal with Bemidji State.

“It’s really awesome,” junior forward Tori Bott said of the signing ceremony. “You can see on her face how happy she is when she’s with us. Even for us, it’s so rewarding and awesome that we get another teammate.”

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Meshaw, center, signed an honorary national letter of intent on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at Bemidji State. She was joined by current BSU players Rumer Flatness, left, and Tori Bott.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer

BSU was appealing to Meshaw because of its proximity to her hometown, and she picked basketball because her mom played the sport herself. And it turned out to be a match made in heaven, because junior guard Rumer Flatness discovered Team IMPACT at an NSIC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting and immediately wanted to get involved.

“This is 100% something that we wanted to do. This is a perfect fit for our team,” Flatness said. “… We love doing outreach things with our community. When we talked about it, everybody was really, really excited.”

All that led up to Wednesday, where Meshaw signed her honorary letter of intent with Bott and Flatness beside her and little sister Jess in her lap.

“(The ceremony) means a lot. It makes me feel appreciated,” said Meshaw, who also noted that she wouldn’t want to sign with any other team. “(Bemidji State) is close to home. And I feel like it’d be better to be here than anywhere else.”

After signing, Meshaw fielded questions from the media scrum -- a packed house of her new teammates and coaches. She’s even secured an official roster spot on the team’s website and been assigned the jersey number 1.

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Bemidji State women's basketball players ask Meshaw press conference-like questions during her honorary signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at BSU.
Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer

“When I was 12 and I met some of the Bemidji State women’s basketball players, I was like, ‘This is amazing,’” said Flatness, a Bemidji native. “To have that same opportunity to give it to other kids, and knowing how important that is, it’s a really big thing.”

The relationship is set to continue, too. Already about five months in, Meshaw and the rest of the Beavers have made consistent plans to spend time together, they text weekly, and -- of course -- Meshaw attends the team’s games.

“We want her to enjoy it and we want her to feel a part of something,” Bott said. “We see it as an opportunity to have another teammate next to us.”

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Meshaw admitted that a few nerves accompanied her signing ceremony, but excitement was the overriding emotion. And it’s certainly easy to feel that way with so many new teammates reveling in her joy.

“There’s so many people that will support us,” Meshaw said. “It is very cool. And I love it.”

Meshaw’s last name and hometown have been omitted from this article for the privacy rights of Team IMPACT children.

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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