Brittany Swanson stood in the first-base-side dugout at TD Ameritrade Park today watching her son, Coben, and daughter, Saffryn, witness the Titans practice.
For her, it was a precious moment that she will savor. Coben is fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a rare cancer.
But 9-year-old Coben isn’t just any spectator. In October, he signed a letter of commitment and since then has been a symbol of inspiration for the team.
Coben is a huge Star Wars fan, and he gave the team a Darth Vader mask they put in the dugout for every game. Several players have visited him when the family lived in Yorba Linda and have drawn strength from him.
“This has been a blessed pairing for the both of us, and we’re super fortunate,” said Brittany about the Titans and their bond with Coben.
The Titans teamed up together with the help of Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto college athletic teams, local to where they live, and to the greatest extent possible, become a member of the team from signing day through to graduation.
For Coben’s dad, Jonathan, the connection with the team has been therapeutic for his son.
“Just to see these grown guys who care and want him to be part of this is inspiring,” Swanson said as he shagged balls in the outfield, wearing a baseball cap adorned with #TeamCoben. “They have motivated him.”
Coben’s mom agrees.
“I think it is proof that we are thriving. We are not in a hospital anymore. We get to do stuff like this,” Brittany said. “These guys are glad we are here, and we are so glad to support them. It’s awesome.”
Though the Swansons have moved to Nashville, their bond with the team is even stronger.
“The hardest thing leaving California was leaving these guys,” Jonathan said.
Coben was just happy being a kid on a ball field. He spent part of the practice session on Friday grabbing fly balls in the outfield with starting pitcher John Gavin. He also got to sign baseballs and other memorabilia during an autograph session after practice.
Gavin said that to have the family in Omaha for the College World Series means a lot to him and the team.
“I’m just thankful that they made the trip out,” Gavin said. “We are kind of one big family now.”
And what does Coben think of all this?
“It’s pretty good,” Coben said as young fans yelled out his name asking for the mighty Titan to toss one of them a baseball.