York College lacrosse signs 8-year-old
Signing a national letter of intent Monday for the York College Spartans men’s lacrosse team did not faze Mitch Pollock. A tour of the college’s state-of-the-art athletic facilities was good, he said, but it wasn’t the highlight of his day.
The 8-year-old Hellam Township boy flashed a big smile and held up a whistle when asked what the best part of the day was.
Mitch won’t ever play lacrosse. He weighed 2-and-a-half pounds when he was born prematurely. He overcame kidney failure, requiring a transplant from his mother, Jennifer Pollock.
Mitch has been on peritoneal dialysis, which removes waste products from patients’ blood when their kidneys can’t, his dad, Doug Pollock, explained. A machine pumped fluid into and out of his body for 11 hours every day for two years. He’s been under anesthesia more times than his dad can remember.
It surprised his brother, 17-year-old Sam Pollock, to hear Mitch proclaim him as his hero.
“I was humbled,” Sam said. “I thought he’d say his mom.”
A senior defenseman on Eastern York High School’s lacrosse team, Sam will play for Lycoming College beginning his freshman year in the fall.
Mitch is an avid fan of contact sports, his dad said. He hasn’t missed many of Sam’s games over the years, from indoor and travel leagues to Eastern’s YAIAA contests.
He asks a lot of questions and pays close attention to details of the game, Sam said. He’s always the first person to greet him after a game. And he offers critiques of his older brother’s performances.
“He’s playing through me,” Sam said. “I play my heart out so he can enjoy it.”
Sam likes the competitive nature of lacrosse and the enthusiasm it elicits. He loves the sport’s community and how it commonly supports kids who are sick or disabled.
Medical staff at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where Mitch receives treatment, connected the Pollocks with Team Up For 1 Foundation, a group who matches disabled children and their families with sports teams around the country.
Mitch got to blow his whistle at practice Monday, helping his new team go through warmups after Spartan men’s lacrosse head coach Brandon Childs and team captain Ben Jones welcomed him to the team at a news conference.
“Mitch is now a member of our team and with everyone on our team, our number one objective is to bring enthusiasm to everything we do,” Childs said after practice. “Mitch will be held to that same standard. We are going to ask Mitch to bring his smile everyday he is with the team. I am so grateful for the opportunity to welcome Mitch to our team.”
Temperatures were in the 20s on Monday, with heavy winds quickly numbing bare hands at practice. It didn’t bother Mitch, though, who wore his number 19 Spartan jersey — Sam’s number — and York College ball cap over his hooded winter jacket.
Mitch is excited to continue watching Sam play lacrosse. He’ll be at his upcoming high school and college games, as well as some practices in between.
“You know what I’ll have with me?” he asked, holding up his whistle.