Bates field hockey welcomes 5-year-old Nora Franks into the fold

Bates field hockey, including head coach Danielle Ryder (in white), met their newest team member, Nora Franks (in purple), after practice on Sept. 12, 2014. (Andy Walter/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College field hockey team met its newest member, 5-year-old Nora Franks of Cape Elizabeth, in a special gathering at the end of the team's practice Friday at Campus Avenue Field.

Nora and her family, including her mother, Bates alumna Valerie Franks, were put in touch with Bates field hockey through Team Impact, a non-profit that matches children who are diagnosed with serious illnesses, like Nora, in the interest of improving their quality of life. 

"The Bates field hockey team is thrilled to welcome Nora and her wonderful family, the Franks, to our team," said Bates head coach Danielle Ryder. "We would like to thank Team Impact for making the connection and allowing our team the opportunity to take Nora, a spitfire 5-year-old, on to our roster."

When Nora was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with Bilateral Wilms' Tumor, a cancer that had invaded both of her kidneys. Nora spent 4 months in the ICU and an additional several months in the main hospital inpatient unit. During this time, she underwent chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries.  At this point, her left kidney was removed. Nora finished her chemotherapy in March. She will need a kidney transplant and is hoping to have a clean bill of health by the end of next year. She is currently in preschool with her twin brother Evan, and her 6-year-old sister Madeleine is in 2nd grade.

Nora will participate in team activities throughout the upcoming season, beginning with Saturday's home game against Hamilton. On Friday she was presented with her own field hockey stick and some Bates gear, including a Bobcat jersey. 

Nora and her family got to know the Bates team members on Friday as they sat in a circle on their home field. Team members went around the circle, introducing themselves and sharing unique facts about themselves (for example, captain Jillian Conway also has a twin brother, and Alex Eliopoulos can do a mean headstand).

"It is also a great opportunity for the team to see that the connections you make at Bates are lifelong: Nora's mother Valerie is a Bates alumna," said Ryder. "Bates is a tremendous community and the perfect home for Nora and her family."