Sondre Reeves, 7. signs a letter of intent with the help of football coach JB Wells. (HANNAH LACLAIRE / THE TIMES RECORD)

BRUNSWICK — The two newest teammates drafted to the Bowdoin College Polar Bears are smaller than the other players, but what they lack in size they make up for in pure, unbridled enthusiasm.

Seabren and Sondre Reeves, brothers ages 9 and 7, respectively, signed letters of intent on “Draft Day” Friday evening and were each handed a team jersey, which Seabren promised he would not be taking off anytime soon.

The brothers came to Bowdoin through Team IMPACT, an organization that connects children facing serious illnesses with local college athletic teams. Seabren and Sondre both have Alport Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects the ears, kidneys and eyes.

According to Whitney Reeves, the boys’ mother, Seabren and Sondre likely will lose their hearing by age 15 and need kidney transplants by 20.

Seabren Reeves, 9, tries on his new jersey after signing a letter of intent for the Bowdoin College Polar Bears. (HANNAH LACLAIRE / THE TIMES RECORD(

Having two children with a condition that is not visible from the outside can be tricky, she said, because they “look healthy,” so she and her husband, also named Seabren, try to advocate for families with rare genes as much as possible.

When the parents learned about Team IMPACT, they were thrilled, even though they were not die-hard football fans to begin with.

“The boys can’t play contact sports,” Whitney Reeves said, so they are excited to be involved this way.

“We’ve become pretty much football experts, which we never expected,” she said.

As members of the team, Seabren and Sondre acted as honorary team captains at Saturday’s game. They’ll attend both home and away games, practices, team events and team dinners. The Bowdoin football players also committed to doing  other things the boys want to do. For example, the team will join the boys for lunch at their school, and there is talk of a few players taking Seabren and Sondre trick-or-treating this year.

As soon as they arrived at Whittier Field on Friday evening, Sondre was in the thick of things, throwing a football around with some of the teammates, edging deeper and deeper into the field. His older brother, Seabren, stayed a little further back. Being older, his mother said, he is able to “self-regulate” a little better than his younger brother.

“When raising children with something life threatening … it’s a fine balance” between doing too much for them and letting them figure it out on their own, she explained.

“Joining” the football team was a good opportunity for them to feel challenged and be brave, she added.

Connor Downs, a Bowdoin College student, talks with Sondre Reeves, 7, about his new role on the Bowdoin football team. (HANNAH LACLAIRE / THE TIMES RECORD)

But it’s not just Seabren and Sondre who are benefiting from the experience. 

“The program gives (the boys) something, but it gives these guys so much more,” Bowdoin football Coach JB Wells said of the team.

Wells first heard of Team IMPACT when the team he coached at Endicott College worked with a high school student. Wells is still in touch with that student to this day.

Even though they’re both dealing with illnesses, at the end of the day they are still little kids, he said. “They’re awesome.”

Seabren and Sondre, both clad in their jerseys, high fived players, laughing. 

“This is the coolest thing in the world,” Seabren said.

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