UTSA athlete, young girl nominated for Teammate of the Year

Voting for Teammate of the Year closes on May 4th

SAN ANTONIO – A bond between a local college athlete and a 9-year-old girl could be award-winning.

They’re vying for your vote to be honored as the Teammate of the Year.

“I’m going to probably teach her how to play Super Smash Brothers,” Mia Perez said.

“I’m gonna win,” Hailey Atwood responded.

“No, you’re not,” Mia said.

Little Mia Perez and Hailey Atwood play together like sisters.

“It’s definitely like, changed my life, like meeting the whole family,” Atwood said.

Atwood is a guard on the UTSA women’s basketball team. She and her teammates met Mia through Team IMPACT.

It’s an organization that pairs collegiate athletes with kids with disabilities or with serious illnesses like Mia, who is battling leukemia.

“I’m going to go with her for her last chemo and even just going to that, like she, that will get her mind off of like, needles going into her and like, we’ll be able to like, joke around and have some fun,” Atwood said.

We first introduced you to Mia last September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

She and Atwood are on a mission to continue to spread awareness and they’re using their nomination for Team IMPACT’s Teammate of the Year to do it.

“Once you tell everybody, then other people will know about um, kids with cancer, then, like, maybe, like, they’ll do something about it. And probably, like, scientists will try to find, like, a cure for different types of cancers, like brain cancer,” Mia said.

The Teammate of the Year award honors the bond built at a gala in Boston on June 1st.

Mia and Atwood are the only team from Texas nominated for the award, and they’re determined to win.

“Your votes matter. It counts. It’s beyond the trip to Boston. We just want to bring awareness to this topic that really isn’t talked about,” Atwood said.

Voting for the Teammate of the Year ends on May 4th. You can vote as many times as you’d like by clicking here.

Some exciting news -- Mia is done with her cancer treatments next month.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.