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Molly Sequin | NCAA.com | August 8, 2018

Oregon gives 8-year-old battling cancer a special roster spot

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The Oregon Ducks volleyball team officially signed its top 2018 recruit yesterday. 

She wasn't your typical 6-4 middle blocker or 5-11 libero. Instead, the Ducks welcomed a 8-year-old girl battling a rare form of cancer. No. 22 Danielle Bixby has been undergoing chemotherapy to treat Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis for over a year now.

Bixby is one of the most energetic kids you'll meet. In her words, "I'm excited for everything!"

She's wasn't shy to speak out during the press conference held by head coach Matt Ulmer, who said she embodies everything he looked for in the No. 4 recruiting class in the country – work hard, fight and don't make excuses.

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When it came time for questions, Bixby acknowledged her gratitude towards the team, saying "My heart is pounding really fast because I'm happy to have all these lovable people here to love me." She then told the crowd it was fine if they wanted to cry, because "mom cries all the time."

After the few serious moments, Bixby was back to her rambunctious self, battling junior middle blocker Ronika Stone to a dance-off. 

When Bixby took a break from the microphone, senior setter August Raskie told the room what an impression Bixby has made on the team, calling here a "constant source of energy."

But Bixby and her mom, Shannon Baimbridge, didn't just go to the press conference to add energy to that single room.

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Baimbridge explained that Bixby was given the opportunity to sign with the Ducks due to Team IMPACT, an organization that matches kids with life-altering diseases with college teams. Oregon volleyball is also set to dedicate its September 30 match against Arizona State to promoting children's cancer awareness month. Baimbridge hopes to add energy around cancer awareness to the entire community.

But Bixby wasn't about to let that news be the end of the press conference. She told coach Ulmer that if the Ducks could get a new mascot, she'd prefer a unicorn. 

The Ducks will be releasing more information on the match dedicated to Bixby in the coming weeks, but one thing is certain – Bixby will be there with a big smile on her face. 

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