Aiden Smith, a 6-year-old resident of Roseville, is joined by his parents, from right, Mike and Andrea Smith, and Lawrence Tech men’s soccer coach Will Dyer after signing an official Letter of Intent with the team. Aiden will participate in practices, games and other events with the Blue Devils this season.

Aiden Smith, a 6-year-old resident of Roseville, is joined by his parents, from right, Mike and Andrea Smith, and Lawrence Tech men’s soccer coach Will Dyer after signing an official Letter of Intent with the team. Aiden will participate in practices, games and other events with the Blue Devils this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Aiden signs with LTU

By: Timothy Pontzer | Madison - Park News | Published August 15, 2018

SOUTHFIELD — With most of the top athletes at Lawrence Technological University looking on, the school welcomed its newest prized recruit Aug. 1.

Members of the Blue Devils men’s and women’s soccer clubs, volleyball squad, basketball roster and the college’s inaugural football team chanted “AI-DEN, AI-DEN” as pen was put to paper in a very special ceremony.

Aiden Smith, a 6-year-old resident of Roseville, signed his official Letter of Intent with the LTU men’s soccer team. By far the youngest student on campus, Aiden became a Blue Devil through a collaboration with Team IMPACT and the university.

A nonprofit headquartered in Boston, Team IMPACT matches children facing serious or chronic illnesses with local teams. Born prematurely, Aiden was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2011. A twin — his sister, Elise — was stillborn. Due to an emergency delivery at only 28 weeks, Aiden also developed cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus.

“This is awesome. It’s nice to have Aiden included in something normal that he wouldn’t normally get to do,” said Aiden’s mother, Andrea Smith. “It’s also a learning experience for the whole athletic community here. What we’re really lacking in society today is how when you see someone different, you immediately underestimate what they can do or bring. We all need to start learning from each other.”

LTU men’s soccer coach Will Dyer said he was thrilled to add Aiden. Held in a large auditorium in the school’s Arts and Science Building, the event was filled with pomp and circumstance as the longtime coach relayed a draft card to a podium, as Aiden was the first overall pick in the Team IMPACT draft.

“This truly shows LTU at its finest. It’s an honor to have him join the team,” said Dyer, who is now in his eighth season at the helm of the program. “Aiden is a kid who goes through challenges and continues to always battle things our student-athletes will never have to face. We’re excited to have him on the team. He’s just one 6-year-old, but I truly believe he will help our players grow and become better on and off the field. Aiden is a true warrior, and now he’s a Blue Devil.”  

Dyer’s players agreed.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to welcome Aiden in,” said junior defender Corbin Woellecke. “We hope to help him in any way we can, and we know he’ll be a huge help for us.”

Assistant Director of Athletics Andrew Herrick echoed that sentiment.

“Aiden is not only joining the soccer team, but he will be a member of the entire LTU family,” Herrick said from the podium. “The impact that Aiden will have on the lives of our team is unprecedented. We hope the same can be said for how we help Aiden.”

Aiden’s father, Mike Smith, was excited that his son will have this opportunity.

“It will be great for him to simply be out on the field and just be part of the team,” he said. “We’re so thankful and excited for our family, and most importantly, Aiden.”

Andrea Smith said the process started after she noticed a post on social media.

“I found Team IMPACT on Facebook,” Andrea Smith said. “I filled out an application, and we had a meet-and-greet July 5. The rest is history. Aiden communicates through facial expressions since he is nonverbal. When we had that first meet-and-greet, he was smiling and laughing. He knows what’s going on and he’s very, very happy. This is a perfect fit for him.”

Presented with a hat and jersey, Aiden will participate in practices, games, team dinners and other events.

“We’re so excited and thankful. But now we have to learn soccer,” Andrea Smith said with a laugh. “I know the other football, so I now I have to learn this football.”