7-year-old signs national letter of intent with Rice football

With the help of Team IMPACT, Rice University head football coach David Bailiff inked 7-year-old Fre’derick “Ziggy” Stoval-Redd of Mississippi to a national letter of intent to become an honorary member of the team.

A national organization, Team IMPACT pairs Division I athletic teams with children with life-threatening illnesses. Ziggy, who is currently relocating with his mother, Phila Stoval, to the Houston area to be closer to his doctors, has fought off acute lymphoblastic leukemia twice and is currently in remission.

With a large turnout by Rice football players and the media, Bailiff opened a news conference in Rice Stadium’s R Room: “We’re really excited today. This young man has been wrestling with this decision, and he’s finally made his choice. His choice is Rice University. We want to welcome Ziggy to Rice University and to the Rice football family.”

After a long applause, Ziggy said, “Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the team,” which also drew cheers from the room.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ for allowing the opportunity for him to be a part of the team and for allowing him the opportunity to live life like a regular kid,” Phila Stoval said.

Donning a Rice football cap, Ziggy then grabbed a blue thin marker and signed his Rice University national letter of intent and officially became a Rice Owl.

“We know in this program that it’s important to give back,” Bailiff said. “We know it’s important to make a young man smile and to feel a part of it, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Listen to the news conference by clicking on the image below or here.

“Every week he’s (Ziggy) in a hospital life, and he really doesn’t get a chance to enjoy being around just regular everyday things,” Phila Stoval said. Referring to Ziggy’s new Rice teammates, she said, “I feel that he has bigger brothers now. We’re from Mississippi, so it’s like an extended family. They are making us part of the family.”

“Ziggy will always be part of Rice University and Rice football family,” Bailiff said. “When they are here (for medical treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center), he’s got a place to come out and hang out. He’s now got 100 brothers and 10 granddads (football coaches) who are always going to be here for him, and we will be with him every step of the way. … That’s our pledge to Ziggy’s mom.”

After the news conference, Ziggy hit the Rice Stadium field with his new family to run football drills.

In just four years, Team IMPACT has recruited teams from nearly 300 colleges and universities in 42 states and paired them with close to 600 kids between the ages of 5 and 15 who have cancer or other life-threatening or chronic illnesses.


About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.