The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Final Seven Minutes
More than an education
More than an education
Final Seven Minutes

They approached the huddle between the 3rd and 4th quarters with slumped shoulders, heads down, angst on their faces, and for all intents and purposes personifying the look of defeat. Little did they know that a young boy with Down syndrome, a boy who had cheered for two seasons without ever touching the court during a real game was about to enter for the 4th and final quarter. As each player put their hands in to say the “go Bobcats” cheer before walking back to play the final period the thirty-six point deficit was no longer on their minds. You could see it in their countenance as they strolled back to midcourt with smiling faces and heads held high. As each player made their way to their defensive assignments you could hear the rumble from the crowd who realized that Brandon was moments away from playing in his first official junior high basketball game. Something magical was about to unfold. After trading baskets back and forth it became apparent that the Bobcats were working hard to get Brandon a couple shots at the basket. Brandon was on the right side of the court between 10-12 feet away when he got his first two shots both of which rolled around the rim and out. And each time the ball went up the collective gasp from all involved took the air out of the gymnasium. You could see the Bobcats playing splendidly and the best player giving subtle instructions. So he lined up correctly on defense and primed himself for offense. Then it happened with a little under 4-minutes to play. Brandon slid off a screen about 10 feet from the basket in the right corner received a perfect pass and without delay squared up and hit nothing-but-net. Brandon, recognizing that his shot went through turned toward the other basket and jumped two feet into the air pumping his fists excitedly. There were no more than 200 fans that night but the screams, clapping, and exuberance sounded as though thousands were there to celebrate this crowning moment in Bobcat basketball. Brandon went on to score another basket from the same spot, as well as dish out two assists and grabbed one rebound. To all who were there the loss was quickly forgotten and placed gently into a repository never to be retrieved. We have all heard tales about game winning shots and last second goals where teams coalesced and became one turning losing seasons into winning campaigns. Rarer is the story where a team loses and everyone in the gymnasium walks away changed forever. Changed by one shot in a meaningless game that less than 200 people attended which had little to do with basketball in the end. This story about a team and one of its players is not one that is familiar to most of us. But this community in need of hope and by the grace of a coach who cared and taught, players who embraced the idea, and a crowd that exalted and cheered, hope became possible.




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Tim Cecy, United States, CA
5/1/2013 12:22:48 PM
I loved this story. As a coach I do understand there is more to the game than winning and losing I have coached similar situations with identical results. I watched as all the players grew as young men.

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