The littlest Tartan

More news about: Carnegie Mellon
Carnegie Mellon coach Rich Lackner spends some time on the sideline with Brock Kitterman.
Carnegie Mellon athletics photo 

Carnegie Mellon’s most inspirational member of the team wasn’t on the field for the Tartans Saturday night in a 30-0 loss to Case Western Reserve in the Academic Bowl.

But the impact a player can make isn’t always measured in touchdowns and tackles.

Nine-year-old Brock Kitterman has battled a rare eye cancer, bilateral retinoblastoma, since he was a baby. He is connected with CMU through TEAM IMPACT, an organization that matches children facing life threatening or chronic illness with a college team to improve their quality of life through their involvement with a team.

Kitterman, who is legally blind and has difficulty hearing as well, will never play an actual college football game, but ultimately, that matters little.

“Our players see the challenges he deals with 24-7 and they see how he never feels sorry for himself,” CMU coach Rich Lackner said. “He has a great outlook on life and is an inspiration to us all.”

Senior defensive tackle Dustin Schneider echoed those thoughts. He loves seeing Kitterman at practice every week and looks forward to seeing him at the games as well. Kitterman was at the Tartans’ opener on Saturday.

“It’s a lot of fun. He always has a smile on his face and talks to us,” Schneider said. “He’s really inspirational because even though he has gone through so much, he still enjoys life.”

Kitterman was diagnosed with cancer at 12 weeks old. He had two retina detachments and multiple tumors in both eyes that included thousands of seed tumors. He went through high-dose chemotherapy for six months. The chemo calcified and shrunk the tumors, allowing the retinas to reattach. He also went through Cryotherapy treatment and laser therapy, which allowed doctors to freeze the seeds.

While the chemotherapy did help his situation, one of the agents used during it caused difficulty with his ability to hear.

On top of that, Kitterman had a two-step surgery to fix the muscles around his eyes so that he could look at someone directly when talking.

“As football players, we battle injuries and go through practices and play games, but it doesn’t compare to what (Brock) has gone through,” Schneider said. “He’s been battling his whole life.”

Lackner said his team has never been involved with TEAM IMPACT before, but was thrilled about the idea when the athletic director mentioned it to him last winter.

Kitterman was voted a captain and typically spends two days a week with the team at practice. He also gets to enjoy pre-game meals with the team.

“Our players have really taken him under their wings,” Lackner said. “The experience is beneficial to Brock because he gets to be around a team and interact with the players. Our guys benefit because it gives them a greater appreciation for everything. I’m blessed to be a part of this. I love working with young people. This has been a great experience for me as a coach.”

While Kitterman doesn’t play football, he does compete in triathlons, and the players once surprised him at one of his meets. After it was over, they took him to Kennywood, an amusement park in Pittsburgh.

“It was so impressive watching him out there,” Schneider said. “He’s like any other kid who loves competing in sports. It was awesome seeing Brock compete. He’s very talented.”

The appearance by the players at the triathlon is an example of how much they enjoy being around Kitterman, who has no doubt helped enrich the experience of the players as NCAA Division III student-athletes.

“This isn’t something where we just pretend to enjoy having him around when he is at practice,” Schneider said. “We all look at Brock like he is our little brother. We love spending time with him and our relationship with him goes well beyond the time we see him at practice every week.”

Turning the page

Justin Magazine was expected to play a big role for Ohio Northern’s offense this season, and after one game, it looks like he is more than ready to live up to expectations.

Magazine helped the Polar Bears shake off an early chill and rally for a 31-24 victory in their season opener against Washington U. Magazine rushed for a career-high 154 yards and scored a touchdown, which tied the game at 17-17 late in the second quarter. His previous career high was 115 yards.

Magazine picked up where he left off. A year ago, he started the final six games and finished his sophomore season with 509 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning second-team All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors.

His performance against Washington is also another sign of his progression, which has shot upward quickly after he played in only two games as a freshman.

Record breakers

Aaron Tenney and Nathan Hartline can’t complain about the way their 2014 season has started with the Adrian Bulldogs.

Tenney connected with Hartline five times on touchdown passes as Adrian rolled over Defiance 35-13 in its season opener.

Tenney, who threw for 265 yards, tied a school record for touchdown passes in a game. Meanwhile, Hartline (161 receiving yards) broke the school record for touchdown receptions in a game and nearly matched his touchdown total (seven) from last season.

Both players are seniors and their experience is invaluable. Tenney started seven games a year ago and came into the season with 15 touchdown passes. Hartline is coming off a breakout season where he caught 49 passes for 819 yards as he earned second-team All-MIAA honors.

Filling a void

Ohio Wesleyan lost one of its best quarterbacks in program history to graduation, but at least through one game, Dominick Orsini looks like a viable replacement for Mason Espinoza.

Orsini rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another as he helped the Bishops knock off Bluffton 40-20 on Saturday in a non-conference road game.

Orsini went 20-of-33 for 185 yards. He was sacked four times. He ran the ball 19 times for 50 yards, showing off his versatility as a passer and runner.

A year ago, Orsini saw action in four games and completed six of his eight passes for 75 yards. He also threw one touchdown pass. If he can build off what he did on Saturday, the Bishops have a chance to finish much better than expected.

Presidential power

Washington and Jefferson was impressive on offense in its 51-17 non-conference win over Wooster, rolling up more than 500 yards (522), including 321 on the ground.

Its defensive effort was just as impressive against a Wooster team that entered the year with high expectations.

The Presidents limited the Scots to 312 yards and only 13 first downs. They also forced two turnovers.

Jon Turner shined bright for the Presidents. The junior defensive end led the team in tackles (11) and forced a fumble. Turner made 45 tackles last year.

Senior linebacker Jared Pratt looks like he is ready to continue his success from a year ago when he led the team in tackles (98). Pratt made 10 tackles, marking the sixth time in his career he has tallied 10 or more tackles.

Poll Points

Mount Union remained No. 3 after Kevin Burke threw for a career-high 411 yards and three scores in a 58-7 win over Bethany...No. 10 John Carroll posted a shutout in its opener for the second straight year after blanking Saint Vincent 44-0. The Blue Streaks allowed only 105 yards….Austin Brown tallied 10 tackles for Wabash, which moved from 16th to 14th after a 34-21 win over Hampden-Sydney...Wittenberg dropped to 16th after a 22-16 loss to Butler. Zach Culvahouse caught a school-record 14 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns….Cartel Brooks rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns in Heidelberg’s 72-7 win over Alma. Heidelberg moved up to 18th. Jensen Gebhardt threw for 269 yards and three scores in No. 22 Thomas More’s 35-20 loss to Wesley.

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Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

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