CHARLOTTE, N.C. (DC News Now) — The Taylor family from Alexandria, Virginia made the six-plus hour drive down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to see the Maryland football team play in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Friday.
Shannon and Scott Taylor’s 11-year-old son Cal is probably the most excited member of the family.
“He watched the bowl selection, he was checking all of the feeds to see where they were going,” Cal’s mother Shannon said. “This is the highlight of his year.”
Cal and his family have attended many games this season.
“He is having a ball out there. He loves seeing the players. He loves interacting,” Cal’s father Scott said. “He just can’t wait for them to win and he is their biggest fan in the stands.”
Cal isn’t just a fan, he’s a member of the team.
“Cal was there last year at the Pinstripe Bowl,” Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley said. “It would only be fitting [for him to be here.] He’s a part of our team.”
Before last season, through the organization Team Impact, the team held an official signing ceremony, making Cal a Terp.
“It’s really cool and it’s kind of nice to meet the players,” Cal said. “It’s been a really long time and I’ve gotten some amazing lifelong friendships with most of the players.”
Cal has specialized pregame handshakes with the players and has a special bond with punter Anthony Pecorella.
“When Cal was six-years-old, he was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis,” Shannon said. “It’s an auto immune disease. His immune system attacks his skin and his muscles.”
Through his personal challenges, the Terps have provided Cal with inspiration.
“It helps because they motivate me to kind of keep going,” Cal said. “They’re all really good people and that’s what I kind of want to be like.”
Cal hopes to see a win in the Mayo Bowl Friday, but win or lose, he finds joy in the fact that at 11-years-old he’s inspiring big, tough football players.
“They’re like 10 years older than me,” Cal said. “So it’s kind of cool yeah.”