The Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team added a new “player” on Tuesday, placing 6-year-old Billings native Elijah Salley on its roster.
Elijah will join the Yellowjackets for practices, games, and team events as he receives treatment for cancer.
He was paired with the Yellowjackets through the national nonprofit organization Team IMPACT, whose mission is to pair children with severe diseases with college athletic teams. Through this partnership, the children gain strength and a sense of camaraderie, and are exposed to many of the valuable experiences that student-athletes regularly have.
“As soon as my staff and I heard about Elijah we knew he would be a perfect addition to our men’s basketball program,” said head coach Jamie Stevens. “We were lucky that he was able to join us for our first day of practice. This is an awesome opportunity for our student-athletes and our staff to be a part of Elijah’s journey and to learn from a family like the Salleys.”
Elijah joins Sebastien Easton and Bria Koch as the third local child to be paired with the Yellowjackets. Sebastien has been with the men’s soccer program since fall 2014, while Bria joined MSUB’s softball team in the 2016 season.
“It is a very special day for our university as well as our men’s basketball program,” MSUB athletic director Krista Montague said. “I know our team will learn a lot about courage and perspective that you cannot get in the classroom. We are proud to continue our tradition of impacting the community in meaningful ways with the addition of Elijah and the Salley family.”