New Commit: 12-Year-Old Colton Hoffman Officially Becomes an Arizona Wildcat

colton hoffman arizona signing nli
Photo Courtesy: Stan Liu - Arizona

By Chandler Brandes.

Twelve-year-old Colton Hoffman’s infectious smile lit up the room when he officially became a member of the University of Arizona Swimming and Diving team.

In the midst of the college recruiting season, Colton was able to join in on the excitement. He signed his National Letter of Intention with Arizona, complete with an official signing day right on the Tucson campus.

Colton was born with a rare genetic disorder caused by an unbalanced translocation between genes 3 and 18. An abnormal anatomy has resulted in multiple surgeries as well as cognitive and speech delays.

Colton’s mother, Jen Hoffman, first heard about Team IMPACT through family friends who also have a child with special needs. Founded in 2011, the national nonprofit connects children who have chronic illness, like Colton, with local college athletic teams with the intention to form life-long bonds.

colton hoffman family nli arizona augie busch

Photo Courtesy: Stan Liu

“Team IMPACT’s goal is to connect special needs kids with college athletes and teams to be a part of each other’s lives,” said Jen. “They really work on making a wonderful match.”

Team IMPACT first connected Colton, his younger sister Mackenzie, father Greg and Jen with the team in April of 2018. It was everything the family could have hoped for.

The Arizona Wildcats would also agree that the pairing was a perfect match.

“The entire athletic department at Arizona makes a huge effort to be a part of the Tucson community,” said Delaney Schnell, a sophomore diver for the Wildcats. “To be involved with Colton means a lot to the team because we are able to make a long-lasting friendship with Colton as well as his sister Mackenzie and his parents.”

augie busch arizona colton hoffman

Photo Courtesy: Stan Liu – Arizona

Augie Busch, currently in his second year at the helm of Arizona’s program, said this is the team culture the Wildcats have been striving to create. He noted that the team’s involvement with Colton and his family through Team IMPACT has filled him with joy knowing that they are part of something truly special.

“It really enriches my life, my coaching staff’s lives, and most importantly my team’s lives,” said Busch. “It’s a really fulfilling feeling knowing you’re making a difference – and really a kid’s life – with what we’re doing.”

The Wildcats have organized get-togethers with Colton and his family about once a month since the match occurred in April. According to his mother, some of Colton’s favorite activities have been meeting the team for ice cream and playing games at Dave and Buster’s.

The culmination of Colton’s involvement with the team came on September 28, 2018. In front of family, friends, local media outlets and his new teammates, Colton signed his National Letter of Intent and officially became part of the Wildcat family.

colton hoffman arizona locker room

Photo Courtesy: Stan Liu – Arizona

“We were totally shocked and excited with how awesome signing day went. Colton loved all the attention,” Jen said. “’His team,’ as he calls them, have been so incredibly supportive.”

In addition to signing the letter and cheering his first official “Bear Down,” Colton received his new Arizona gear and checked out his very own team locker. Jen said that Colton smiled for hours that day.

“For us, we were really happy to see Colton happy,” said Busch. “There were feelings of happiness for him and his family, gratitude for what we have. [It was] very warm because of how touching it was for us, the family, and the audience.”

colton hoffman arizona wildcats team

Photo Courtesy: Stan Liu – Arizona

Signing day was just as impactful for the Wildcats as it was for Colton and his family. Jen said that the team is helping him more than they will ever know by giving him something to belong to while having a group of people to call his own.

“I didn’t realize how special it would feel until it was happening. The whole room lit up when they saw how happy [Colton] was sitting in the front of the room,” Schnell said. “And that made me feel very honored to be apart of Team IMPACT.”

The experience will be something Colton, his family and the team will always remember. Thanks to Team IMPACT, Colton has found a new place to call home with Arizona Swimming and Diving, and he’ll forever be part of the Wildcat family.

See more from Colton’s signing day here.


  1. avatar

    This makes me incredibly happy to hear that the University of Arizona Swimming and Diving team are working with Team IMPACT and inspiring people’s lives. As a future educator, I look forward to being able to give back to special needs children as well when the opportunities arise. I wish more teams would follow suit! Thank you for this awesome article. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth James Arneson

    Thank you so much for reporting on this sweet boy and his family. Jen Hoffman, did you ever think Colton would be famous? I love this so much.

    • Jen Hoffman

      We knew he was amazing and special, but now everyone else gets to see how awesome he is. ❤️❤️