The first and only pick of the Yale Bulldogs’ 2014 draft is 3-foot-5, 65 pounds and 6 years old.
His name is Dante Chiappetta and his position is “Team Impact.”
Dante, of West Haven, has cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment, which means his eyes see correctly but his brain misinterprets the image.
He was diagnosed with CVI at just 1 month old, and doctors warned his parents that he could face a life of blindness. Fortunately, Dante can see, but his vision is sensitive.
“I look up to him more than he can image,” said Yale tight end Jackson Stallings, a sophomore. “Through his adversity, he embodies all of our core values, so it’s really great to have him aboard.”
Dante’s position on the team derives from a Boston-based organization that pairs children facing mental and physical difficulties with team-based college support networks, called Team Impact.
“Anything that we go through on a day-to-day [basis] is nothing he faces every day, so he’s a real strong person in my life,” Stallings said.
The team sees Dante as a bonafide member – he's already on the roster – and has invited him to the first game of the season. In two weeks, Dante will don jersey No. 39 and cheer on his teammates as they take on Lehigh at the Yale Bowl.