Women's Basketball Welcomes Buzz Smith to Bearcats Family|
May 26, 2011
CINCINNATI - Head coach Jamelle Elliott and the University of Cincinnati women's basketball team welcomed a new member to the Bearcats family Thursday morning after holding an official adoption ceremony for 11-year old Buzz Smith at Fifth Third Area. Elliott presented an official team jersey to Buzz and his family, who were on hand for the event.
"This is very special day for us," Elliott said. "It is fun to be able to come and get together for things off the basketball court. Buzz encompasses everything that I would want in a Cincinnati player - his mental and physical toughness, his work ethic, being a good student in the classroom and just having unbelievable character with the way he has handled everything that is going on with his life."
Buzz, a recovering tumor patient, appeared at the Bearcats final two games last season, including its 65-62 victory to knock off No. 25 Marquette. It was then that Elliott and her team of staff and players saw something special in Buzz and first considered making him a permanent fixture in the program.
"After that game I figured it must be Buzz," Elliott said. "He was our good luck charm and obviously we have all heard his story. He interacted with our team, especially Shelly (Bellman), and they had a great relationship with him."
The adoption, deemed `Team Buzz,' will allow Buzz and his family exclusive access to games and practice, as well as the opportunity to give motivational speeches pre-game. Additionally, the team will take up donations at sponsored events, beginning with its annual golf outing on September 25th.
"You are going to be a part of our family for a long time," Elliott said to Buzz. "The only difference is our players are on a four-year scholarship and you are on a lifetime scholarship."
Sixth-year senior Shelly Bellman had an immediate bond with the Smith family after their interaction at Senior Day, and has continued to strengthen her relationship since.
"I was chosen to present Buzz with the jersey we had signed (at the Marquette game)," Bellman said. "It all started from there. I fell in love with Buzz and his brother Zach, his whole family. It's a great family and I just wanted to be a part of them and their whole journey as much as I could be."
Just as much as the players have been a part of Buzz's path to recovery, he has found a spot in their hearts as well.
"Going through practices and games, it's tough, but not in comparison to what Buzz is going through," said junior Chanel Chisholm. "I compete hard every day just because I know that he is. He is mentally tough and physically tough. He's going through what he is going through and he is making it, so I know we can too."