Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Four Glorious Minutes

Did you guys hear about this story? Jason McElwain, a 17-year old, 5' 6" HS senior - and he's autistic - who had been a manager for the Greece Athena High School basketball team was allowed by his coach to dress out for his last regular season game. Usually, he sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie and keeps the stats, runs the clock, and hands out water bottles.

With his team way ahead, Greece Athena Coach Jim Johnson put him in for the final four minutes of the game. Evidently, word had leaked in the school that McElwain would be in uniform, because the crowd had come prepared with "J-MAC" signs and banners. Well, when he got in the game, the home folks went nuts. Jason proceeded to throw up shot number one the first time he touched the ball. Good for him. Unfortunately, it sailed completely off course and had Coach Johnson wondering. A second shot, a gimme lay-up, he missed as well.

Then, magic happened. The next time down the floor, his team fed him again. In one motion he caught and launched. The ball flew up, arced, and drew nothing but the bottom of the net for his first three-pointer ever in a real, high school game. Pandemonium in the crowd! After that, well, in his words:

“As soon as the first shot went in that’s when I started to get going.”

The kid knocked down another three and then another the next two trips up court. He would have made a fourth in a row, but his foot was on the line, so he settled for a two. And the roaring, the screaming, the cheering, the high-fives... all out in force.

All in all, he drained 6 of 10 treys and then had the one two for the most heart-warming "20" I've ever heard of.

How awesome is a story like this? It's so much better than Rudy. And, according to this, the Hollywood buzzards are already circling, waiting to cash in. So what? Let them. This story is great. I have a nephew, my sister's 3-year old son, who's autistic -- well, PDD-NOS, which for a layman like me means autistic. To imagine him one day going out and putting up 20 on some unfortunate team (and while my heart goes out to them, too, this story is all about Jason McElwain), well, right now, it's pretty much unfathomable. How much a kid has to overcome... I'm just happy he had a huge day in the sun. Especially for his parents. They deserve it as much as he does -- close, anyway.

But here's a news story where everything shines, for once. Where everyone got it right. You just don't see that very often, so I'm calling it out. Kudos to Coach Johnson for getting Jason in the game. Kudos to his teammates for getting him the ball and cheering for him. Kudos to the crowd for going wild and then mobbing the court, holding Jason up in triumph after the game. Kudos to Jason's parents for having the courage to let their son try to succeed. But most of all, kudos to Jason McElwain for bearing the load for so long and then, once he got his chance, making greatness happen.

Next year, Jason's enrolling into Monroe Community College, where he'll pursue a business management degree. Go Jason! But are his hoop dreams done?

“I’ll go on to college and I’ll try to hoop there,” he said. “I just love it, it’s one of the greatest sports in the world.”

Well said, Jason, well said. Go with God and GO!!!


DugALug said...

I love this story. We've been commenting all week around here.


Rich said...

Well, I'm pretty sure the blogsphere is now filled with this story, and several others probably told it better than I could have.

But I really enjoyed it, and it hit home with me.