I'm at Mercyhurst University wondering what it would feel like to be a B.M.O.C.  A Big Man On Campus.  What would it be like, for example, to be a member of the Mercyhurst Division One men's hockey team?  I'll tell you what.  I'm going to ask a member of the team.

Jace Keeley is six years old. And yes, he is a member of the Mercyhurst University men's hockey team. He signed with the team last September during a special ceremony on campus.  If you go to the team's web site, you'll see his name, photograph, and bio on the official roster.  You'll also see Jace smiling proudly for the official team picture.  Yes. Jace Keeley, a first grader at Belle Valley School in Millcreek, is a member of the Mercyhurst hockey team.  So Jace, how does it feel?

"It's really fun to be on this team because they are really nice to me,” he says.   

Jace became involved with Mercyhurst hockey when the squad reached out to Team Impact.  It's an organization that connects college sports teams with children who have illnesses and disabilities. Jace has a condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 1.  It requires many trips to Cleveland to see doctors. It's tough for a 6-year old.  But, Jace has 30 guys on skates who help him through it all.  They are his teammates and his buddies.

"This team, they've been amazing to me,” says Natalie Keeley, Jace’s mom.  “The coaches, the kids, each and every one of them has such a great relationship with him.  They genuinely care about him."  

Those tough hockey players send video messages to Jace every time he goes to a doctor's appointment.  They constantly send him text messages. One time when Jace returned home from Cleveland, the team went with him to a trampoline park.  The relationship is not one-sided.  The players get a lot from it too.

"Just gives us a little bit of perspective sometimes.  Kind of having a little brother around all the time.  It's been a good time,” says Steven Agriogianis. (Senior- Forward)

"He's such a great kid,” adds Sean James. (Freshman-Forward)  “Not only myself but everybody loves having him around.  I think it kind of brings out a better mood for all the guys when maybe things aren't going so well."  

I can't go in the locker room.  Jace can!  He's got his name on his hockey stick thanks to the team’s equipment managers. He gets to do drills with his teammates after every practice.  He even takes a few shots on goal.  Jace Keeley.  Mercyhurst Laker!!!

Jace did not know how to skate when he first met the team.  He does very well now.  Jace attends every home game.  The next home game for the Mercyhurst men is Tuesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. versus Niagara.