Men’s soccer embraces 7-year-old hype man Lincoln Mosca


Photo Courtesy: Jim Pierce

Lincoln Mosca, the youngest member of the Northeastern men’s soccer team, participates in the team’s pre-game pep talk. Mosca partnered with the team through Team Impact.

Ali Caudle, news staff

As the Northeastern men’s soccer team warmed up for its Oct. 8 game against Monmouth University at Parsons Field, one special team member, Lincoln Mosca, snacked on crackers as his mother helped put his spine brace on. 

When the team spotted Lincoln, they ran over to the sideline, crouching down to fist bump the 3’11” 7-year-old. A chorus of, “What’s up Lincoln? How are you man?” echoed as the players took turns greeting him. 

Mosca was born with Prader-Willi syndrome, or PWS, a genetic disorder resulting from a deletion of the fifteenth chromosome. After birth, he spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit, going back and forth from doctors at South Shore Hospital to specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital. 

His parents, Kristine and Rick Mosca, said his disabilities impact many facets of his life, as PWS is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently. For Lincoln, it resulted in speech delays and appetite changes. For the first two years of his life, he needed a gastronomy tube, a surgically placed tube that brings nutrition right to the stomach. Recently, he’s begun experiencing constant hunger. He also wears a brace for scoliosis and goes to physical and occupational therapy every week. 

Last year, Mosca’s family reached out to Team Impact, a national nonprofit launched in Boston that “matches children facing serious illness and disability with college sports teams.” Lincoln was matched with Northeastern’s men’s soccer team for the Fall 2021 season and has been part of the team since. 

The Mosca family lives in Marshfield, over an hour away. 

“[The drive] is so worth it because they make him feel special,” Kristine Mosca said. “He’s eager to come. He wants to see all the players, and he sits there and you can see him cheering for them.” 

The team puts a lot of effort into bonding with him. Graduate student and defenseman/midfielder Ahriá Simons shared that the whole team wants to make sure Lincoln feels included. 

“When we see him, everything else drops and everything else is second,” Simons said. “He may be nervous too, right? … So if we can kind of break that barrier, I want to do everything to do so. And obviously the coaches do a lot to foster that connection.” 

In addition to having his name on the roster, Lincoln gets to sit on the bench with the team at home games. He loves to cheer on the players and talk about soccer with them. 

“There was one instance where I was off the field and Lincoln was on the sidelines, and he actually talks more than you would imagine,” Simons said. “That was kind of cool, to see that he’s actually comfortable around us.” 

Since the team doesn’t get to see him much in the off season, they organized ways to keep in touch. Many players sent postcards to Lincoln over the summer, taking turns sending notes and pictures. 

“He just loves coming here. Loves getting the postcards over the summer. Loves sitting on the bench with the guys, … being part of it all,” Kristine Mosca said. 

The players are also great about ensuring his 9-year-old sister Paige is included. 

“She’s a very supportive sister, [but] it can be a lot on the siblings,” she said. 

Paige’s and Lincoln’s parents said they are very appreciative that the team makes sure she’s a part of the fun too. 

The team goes above and beyond saying hello at the games. 

“They bring him in the locker room, they call him by his first name, it’s pretty awesome,” Rick Mosca said. 

“[He’s a] really sweet kid, really awesome family,” said junior defenseman/midfielder Zach Sauer. “Coach [brings] him into the locker room … every time he’s at one of our games, he’s the one who does our pre-game chant for us. He says ‘Stronger’ and then we all go ‘Together!’ He does it a little quiet, but it’s pretty good.” 

When asked, Lincoln said “Zach!” was his favorite player. Sauer explained that they exchange a lot of fist bumps. 

“That’s what we do. He’s always giving us high fives before we run on the field, come off the field and everything,” Sauer said. “I just talk to him when I can about soccer, he’s just a really good kid.”

Simons’ and Sauer’s favorite memory with Lincoln took place before the 2022 season started, when the whole team gathered on Zoom to get to know one another. 

“Lincoln had told us how he really liked animals. So everyone went around and said their favorite animal. And then our coach made us act out what sound that animal makes. He was laughing a lot, I know all of us were laughing a lot,” Sauer said. “It was a really good time together, just being able to put yourself out there, get a little uncomfortable because it was obviously weird to make some weird animal noises. I know someone had to make a dolphin noise. Lincoln’s favorite animal was a lion, he did a pretty big roar.” 

According to his parents, this experience has helped build Lincoln’s confidence. 

“It’s D1 sports — who gets to be a part of that unless you’re playing? It’s pretty awesome, it’s a great opportunity,” Rick Mosca said. 

It’s a valuable experience for the players as well.

“It’s really neat that Northeastern … with Team Impact can impact these kids’ lives in tremendous ways,” said Simons.  “I would do anything to interact with these kids, because I couldn’t imagine what they’re going through, what their families are going through, what they’ve been through.” 

Simons and Sauer are just two of many players who have bonded with Lincoln Mosca, changing his life in invaluable ways. 

“I think it really helps him out every time Lincoln’s with us. He might be a little bit shy, but it’s definitely a boost in his day and also for his family,” Sauer said. “I mean, it’s called Team Impact. It’s a really positive impact on the family itself.”