Trevor Glassman may not have been on the field for Blake Bodily’s opening goal in the University of Washington men’s soccer team’s 2-0 victory over Boston College on Sunday evening at Husky Soccer Stadium, a victory that sent the Huskies into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
But make no mistake, Glassman is just as much a part of the team as anyone who was partaking in the on-field celebrations.
Glassman, a 14-year-old from Arlington, has been an honorary member of the UW team this season, meaning he’s not only been present for one of the Huskies’ best-ever campaigns, he has something fun he can focus on instead of his debilitating heart condition.
“It’s been super fun and super cool being able to hang out with the guys,” Glassman said. “It’s been a fun experience to be with them and do things with them and be at the games.”
Glassman joined the UW men’s soccer team through Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Glassman was diagnosed at birth with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum, meaning his pulmonary valve was not functioning correctly and his right ventricle was underdeveloped. Glassman underwent his first heart surgery when he was just two days old, has had three more since, and will find out in January whether the time has arrived for the next one, as his heart requires regular corrections. The condition causes Glassman to tire easily, and there is no cure.
Despite his condition Glassman is a sports enthusiast, with soccer and basketball being his favorites. He played organized soccer as a youth before it became too much for him.
Then last year Glassman’s family found out about Team IMPACT through the parent of a child involved in another state, and in January Glassman was matched with the UW men’s soccer team. His position with the team was made official in August just before the season started, when the team held a ceremony as Glassman signed a letter of intent — later that afternoon he made a basketball trick shot, one-hopping the ball into the hoop from high in the stands at Hec Edmundson Pavilion while the soccer team roared its approval, resulting in a video that went viral.
“It’s been amazing, just the way that the guys have all rallied behind him and made him feel like a part of the team,” Glassman’s mother, Jackie Angelshaug-Glassman said. “Trevor is having a great time with it. He loves going to the practices and games and hanging out with them. It gives him other things to think about besides upcoming tests and surgeries and that kind of stuff.”
As a member of the team Glassman attends practices and home games. He’ll warm up with the team before games, sit in on locker room meetings and join the team on the bench, just like any other player. He’s also attended team dinners.
“I think my favorite thing has been hanging out at the games and being able to pass with them,” Glassman said. “I just like being at the games with them.”
But Glassman’s interaction with the team isn’t limited to the soccer field. It can be difficult for a 14-year-old to feel comfortable in a large group of college students, and Glassman was shy at first. Therefore, four members of the team — senior defender Andrew Conwell, junior defender Cole Grimsby and sophomore midfielders Lucas Meek and Ryan Crowley — volunteered to help integrate Glassman into the team.
“We have honorary captains every game, but we’ve never had someone really on the team like this in past seasons,” Meek said.
“It’s been a really fun experience I think for everyone on the team, particularly for myself and the other guys at the head of the whole project,” Meek added. “It’s been so much fun to get to see him open up and really be available, and for us to get to know him more and more. It’s a really rewarding experience to see how much it means to him, and in turn how much he means to the rest of our team.”
Those four have gone beyond soccer. They’ve taken Glassman to get ice cream at the University Village shopping center and have gone bowling with him at The HUB on campus. They joined the family to watch Glassman’s younger sisters, Allie and Kara, play one of their fifth-grade basketball games. And Conwell has connected with Glassman digitally via Fortnite video game sessions.
“We’ll play just he and I, and I’ll ask him about how life is going, about school and his family,” Conwell said. “I think even speaking across headphones, it’s a more comfortable plane for him to be in, and you see him opening up more through that platform. Sometimes he’ll bring some of his friends to play, and through that I’ve seen his excitement and enjoyment at being part of the team. With the team it can feel scary, you can tell he’s holding back. But through this platform you see how excited he is and he really opens up.”
While the relationship between Glassman and the team has been so valuable for Glassman, it’s also meant a lot for the players, who have gained perspective watching Glassman dealing with his condition at such a young age.
“I think it’s pretty astounding, given what he’s had to go through with multiple heart surgeries,” Crowley said. “It’s the kind of situation where the next day is never promised, the next year isn’t promised. I can’t put into words what that must be like to go through every day. But the way he lives life and attacks every day and enjoys the moment, it’s cool to see that bravery.”
Glassman’s stint with UW is set for two years, so he’ll be part of the team again next season. But in the meantime this season is still alive for the Huskies, who were ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point and are seeking a national championship.
“I think they can do it,” Glassman said. “They have what it takes.”
And if it happens Glassman will be a champion, too. Because he’s part of the team.
If you have an idea for a community sports story, email Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.