Earlier this year, the Obama administration passed a bill that requires all public schools to allow students with disabilities to participate in school organized sports. (Read more about the new law here). Once the law was put into effect, some schools were concerned about their ability to remain competitive in sports after the inclusion of students with disabilities. Others, such as Germantown High School in Memphis, Tenn. embraced the change and have benefited from the inclusion of student athletes with disabilities. After being approached with a request from a local parent named Maureen Andrews, Germantown High’s basketball coach, Wes Crump, made a spot on the team for Maureen’s son, David Andrews, a Germantown freshman born with Down syndrome. At the time, no one, not even David’s parents, could have predicted just how important David would become to the basketball program. In an article about David, coach Crump stated, “Maureen wasn’t asking for anything other than David maybe getting a sweat suit, team shoes, and for him to be on the bench with the team…” But now, “…He wears number 40. He leads the pregame chant. He swishes threes…” (Read full article here)
David’s story is impressive, moving and inspiring. However, it’s not entirely unique. More than 700 miles away, a similar story recently unfolded at Van Hoosen Middle School in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Owen Groesser, a 13 year-old basketball player who was also born with Down syndrome, made ESPN’ SportCenter highlights by shooting two three-point baskets in the last two minutes of the final game of the season. Owen’s performance has made him a YouTube sensation and a shining example, alongside David Andrews, of the competitive contributions student athletes with disabilities can bring to their teams. If they’re just given the opportunity.