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Phoenix Mercury ‘signs’ 11-year-old as honorary assistant coach

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Mercury WNBA team has added a new member to the coaching staff.

General Manager Jim Pitman and coach Sandy Brondello made the announcement Thursday at US Airways Center.

“I am so honored,” said 11-year-old Mia McPoland. “This is such a blessing.”

“Coach Mia” has been selected as the honorary assistant coach for the rest of the team’s 2014 playoffs run.

“We are so honored to welcome Mia to the Mercury family,” Brondello said. “Mia is an inspiration.”

The little girl suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia, which requires monthly blood transfusions until a bone marrow donor is found.

“I get really tired, and I just want to be in bed all day,” Mia said.

The team decided to offer Mia a contract to bring awareness to marrow donation. Terms of her contract call for her to continue inspiring the team with her strength, get fans to cheer louder at all home games and to continue to raise awareness by sharing her story.

She even will earn a “salary” from the Mercury and Be The Match, which is part of the National Marrow Donor Program. She “will receive $1,000 for the First Round of the 2014 WNBA Playoffs and an additional $1,000 for each round the Mercury advances,” according to a press release. The money will be used to help find a bone marrow donor not just for Mia, but for others like her.

For its part, the team is offering free cheek swab testing Friday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., prior to the first playoff game. A cheek swab is one way to tell if someone is a potential bone marrow match.

As for inspiration, Mia already has that part of her contract down.

“God has a plan for you, don’t worry,” she said, offering encouragement to other sick children.