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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Part of the team: women’s soccer, Team Impact and Lyla Mamum

Lyla+in+the+huddle+with+the+Scots.+Photo+courtesy+of+Madeline+Buckley.+
Lyla in the huddle with the Scots. Photo courtesy of Madeline Buckley.

“A teammate to me is someone who I can trust on and off the field,” Macalester womens soccer captain Ella Short ’25 said. “ I think teammates form really special relationships because we bond over something so specific. And then that bond that you create can transfer to your life outside of that.”

This past season, Macalester women’s soccer welcomed a new teammate on the pitch: high school freshman Lyla Mamum. Lyla, a student at Prior Lake High School, has interests in music, musical theater and literature, and is involved in choir and speech. A designated quadriplegic, Lyla lives with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, which is a brain tumor at the tip of the spinal cord. They were matched with the women’s soccer Scots through the program Team Impact.

Team Impact is a national organization that creates bonds between college sports teams and youth with chronic conditions. In her collegiate career, women’s soccer Head Coach Madeline Buckley had two Team Impact teammates, then an internship with the organization.

“I’ve had history with [Team Impact], [it is] very impactful for the students and their family and then for the college student athletes,” Buckley said. “I really wanted [Team Impact] to be part of our program. I reached out in January and then we were matched this past spring with Lyla.”

For Lyla, the process was a little bit different; they joked that the reason their family applied for a match was because “my mom told me it was cool.”

The rest of the team is grateful that Lyla’s mom, Emily Duffee, made the decision to apply. Short met Lyla for the first time in the summer of 2023, participating in a water gun fight with Lyla and their brother Amir. 

“[The water fight] was really fun. We showed up and immediately there was there was no mercy, she was very competitive,” Short said “Her family really just brought us in like we were part of the family. She’s a very special person to have as part of the team.”

Lyla kept the same tenacity throughout the season, showing up every game and practice they could in their Macalester gear and an infectious energy.

“I’m super excited to have her as part of the team,” Short said. “I think she sets a really great example of team culture, showing up and cheering loud on the sideline. This season we had a phrase of the ‘lit bench’ [where] the bench was always hype and always loud and always cheering and she was really the epitome of that.”

Buckley echoed this sentiment, sharing that, for her, seeing Lyla is often the best part of her day.

“When Lyla comes around, my stress level just lowers and [I’m] able to focus on what’s really important and that’s the people around us,” Buckley said. “I think a lot of people will say our season was so much fun this year. I think one of the reasons is because Lyla was part of the team.”

Part of Team Impact’s mission is bringing support for every piece involved. Duffee shared that the relationship between the team and their family played a large part in their growth as a whole. 

“Team Impact came for us at a really good time when we needed to find that social-emotional support,” Duffee said. “It’s been really nice for our family to meet the team and be a part of something, it was something we could get excited about and all do together.”

Lyla not only came to practices and games, but was invited to team dinners, homework sessions and all other team events. Often, Lyla came to events straight from treatment or various appointments. Buckley stressed that as much as Lyla was there for the team, the team was there for Lyla.

“[Lyla] would sometimes come from a treatment or a doctor’s appointment and for [them] to be able to look forward to practice or a game and have that [be] what their day is about versus their day [being] about the appointment [was great],” Buckley said.

Buckley, having had Team Impact teammates herself, knows the relationship the players have with Lyla, highlighting that their own growth in the process is just as important as Lyla’s.

“Our players have benefited from [Lyla’s] friendship because it’s not often that you have a friend that’s a freshman in high school and you’re in college and you’re able to think how that mentorship of it you going through what our players have gone through a little bit of high school,” Buckley said.

From Short’s experience this season, she could say with confidence what Lyla meant to herself and the team. 

“She put into perspective how special the team is,” Short said. “She showed up to all the games that she could wearing her Macalester gear [and] showed us that there is something bigger to play for. Playing for Lyla and knowing that she was on the sidelines cheering for us, even after surgery when she was in a wheelchair, she still showed up for us. I think [Lyla] having such a deep care for this team really showed how special of a group we have and how special it is to be a part of this team.”

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About the Contributor
Lucy Wing, Features Editor
Lucy Wing ’26 (she/her) is a Media and Culture Studies major from Vashon Island, WA (near Seattle). She contributes the lack of bridges in her adolescence to her interest in pop culture and entertainment media, which bridge people together.

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