When 10-year-old Mick’s phone rang after school one afternoon, he couldn’t believe who was calling on the other end. It was Chris Siegfried, head coach of Pittsburgh’s new arena football team, the Pittsburgh Power. Coach Siegfried told Mick he wanted to sign him as the newest Power player. Mick was asked to report for practice that Wednesday evening.
When the practice day arrived, Mick and his “entourage” (Mick’s mom, dad, sister and brother) pulled up to the UPMC South Side Complex in a limo to begin his big day. He was greeted by Pittsburgh Power management and then officially signed a contract with the Power and owner Matt Shaner, who presented him with his “check” for signing with the team – a whopping $1. Then it was time for Mick’s first press conference, where he was asked questions by local media about becoming the Pittsburgh Power’s newest player.
"You gotta hit people hard, run fast and catch balls," Walsh told reporters.
The hundreds of flashes and the large group of media didn't faze the new star. He was just ready to get on the field.
All new players, of course, have to have an official photo taken. Mick was no exception. Mick’s favorite player, Mike Washington, helped him get ready for his photo shoot for the Power’s upcoming game program. After enjoying a practice alongside his fellow teammates, Mick was now ready to show off his skills at a game.
On May 7, 2011, at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, thousands of football fans cheered on Mick as he ran confidently onto the field through a blast of fireworks for a Pittsburgh Power home game against the reigning Arena Bowl champs, the Spokane Shock. Mick served as the team’s captain for the game, participating in the pre-game coin toss, and played on special teams for the game, running to grab the tee after each kickoff. The Power’s newest addition to the roster also had an interview with local KDKA/CW sportscaster Bob Pompeani during the game. After the 51-41 victory, Mick stayed to sign autographs with his teammates.
“Make-A-Wish and the Pittsburgh Power have forever codified his love for sports and his place in the athletic world,” Mick’s mom told us. “You can be assured that for years and years hence, Michael, and his family will think back fondly to the time when he was the number one player of an incredible professional sports franchise. What a gift we have been given!”
Mick's wish marked the first collaboration between Make-A-Wish® and the Pittsburgh Power and was granted in honor of World Wish Day - a special day for Make-A-Wish as it commemorates the anniversary of the wish that inspired the creation of what is now one of the world's leading children's charities.
Photos courtesy of Tom Sabol, Chris Boyle and Brian Kunst.