As a little girl, Mar­i­anne Mahoney would tag along to sports arenas to cheer on her older brother’s hockey games. But when she entered North­eastern University’s Matthews Arena last Sat­urday, she was the one receiving the applause.

Mahoney, a 14-​​year-​​old Newton res­i­dent who has spina bifida, was drafted onto Northeastern’s women’s ice hockey team as a part of a pro­gram run by Team IMPACT, a Boston-​​based non-​​profit orga­ni­za­tion that matches chil­dren who face life-​​threatening and chronic ill­nesses with col­lege ath­letic teams. More than 80 people looked on as the teenager, who has used a wheel­chair all her life, signed a ‘letter of intent’ making her an hon­orary team player and the newest member of Northeastern’s ath­letic community.

Mahoney, who is the fifth child to be matched with an NU team through Team IMPACT, said she was excited to be part of the team.

I’m looking for­ward to meeting new people,” she said. “I’m going to wear my new jersey a lot.”

Kelly Wal­lace, pres­i­dent of NU’s Student-​​Athlete Advi­sory Com­mittee and a for­ward on the team, said the team’s goal is “to make [Mahoney] feel as wel­come as we can.” She said the women’s hockey team had been waiting two years for a match with Team IMPACT.

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