St. Francis’ newest recruit all smiles after joining team

It was a big day for one little guy as the Saint Francis University football team welcomed its newest recruit during its annual spring scrimmage.

The Red Flash’s latest recruit is 10-year-old Brent Zierer, a Johnstown fifth-grader who took to the field Saturday wearing No. 12.

“It’s my favorite number,” Zierer said after running for a touchdown from midfield in a special running play designed by coach Chris Villarrial and his staff.

Zierer was diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficiency, a primary immunodeficiency disorder where his body is not able to fight off infections. At the age of 9 months and despite having to receive intravenous immunoglobulin infusions five days a week, he’s as active as any other 10-year-old.

Zierer plays football, soccer, baseball and basketball and has a black belt in karate, and on Friday he signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Red Flash football team as part of Team IMPACT, a national program that matches kids with chronic or threatening illnesses with collegiate teams.

“We’re excited to welcome Brent and his family to the Red Flash family,” Villarrial said Friday during the signing press conference. “Brent will be a great addition to the team and his new teammates can’t wait for him to get started.”

His teammates got him off to a great start Saturday, encouraging him on the sidelines throughout the afternoon and cheering him on as he crossed the goal line for a score.

“We feel as a team we’re going to teach him a few things, and we feel we’re going to learn a lot from him,” said sophomore Matt Camilletti, one of the players spearheading the effort to include Zierer in team activities throughout the coming year.

Camilletti said the players are looking forward to Zierer joining them this summer for camp and for the next year, if the team is doing something, so will Zierer, even if it’s just to hang out and watch a movie.

Zierer, the son of Justin and Trisha Zierer, said the best part of his experience so far was getting to run for a touchdown Saturday, and said he hopes to one day attend Saint Francis university.

“He said last night, sports make him feel part of a team,” his mother said. “We try to keep him in activities to keep things normal for him.”

Zierer said since he normally plays defense, it was a treat to run the ball Saturday.

“I want to thank the players for allowing me to do this,” Zierer said, flashing a smile.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.