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The Northwestern Red Raider baseball team signs seven-year-old, with the help of Team IMPACT

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Orange City, Iowa (KTIV) -- Many high school athletes sign letters of intent to play sports in college.

However, it's not every day colleges recruit a seven-year-old to play sports, who is now the newest and youngest member of the Northwestern Red Raider baseball team.

"Chad, do you have a favorite baseball team?"

"Red Raiders."

First-grader Chad Rutlege has made a whole new family at Northwestern College. With the help of Team IMPACT and the college, Chad got to sign with the Northwestern Red Raider baseball team.

"Many kids dream of being on a collegiate baseball team when they get older. But, for this seven-year-old, the dream became a reality."

Team IMPACT connects kids like Chad with college athletic team. When Chad was two, he had part of his right foot amputated after a lawn mower accident. He also suffers from asthma.

Now, he gets to sit with the team in the dugout on game days, attend practices and be an official Red Raider.

"It's, it's amazing as far as a support system. Chad doesn't have any older brothers. And, to have a whole group of guys step in and act like, and have the older brother role has been tremendous for his self confidence," said Kari Rutledge, Chad's mom.

Team officials say Chad has also made a big impact on them.

"When they leave, there are a lot of smiles. And that just means a lot on both sides. You know and we see Chad having a lot of fun and I see our guys having a lot of fun. It's just really really neat so. Just look forward to continuing that," said Brian Wede, Northwestern College Head Baseball Coach.

Team members say spending time with Chad always brightens their day.

"It definitely makes you smile. Every time you see him, he's full of smiles and full of happiness, every time you see him. I don't think I've ever seen him sad so it definitely just makes you smile and yeah. It's good to be around him," said Grant Christy, Northwestern freshman infielder.

Chad's mom says he was eager to sign with Northwestern, asking if it was time to go, nearly seven hours before the big event.

Chad says he's excited to hang out with the team and try to help bring them a national championship.

Emily Schrad

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