The first time I worked with an autistic child was over 10 years ago when I was running a ragtag basketball team. I say ragtag because I had no clue how to coach basketball and admittedly wasn’t very good. I had heart but lacked in experience and skill. The girls I had been assigned this particular year were a special group because my final team was made up of 4 girls who played basketball and 3 girls with some kind of disability. Before the season started we had tryouts and I had many good players show up. However, as tryouts went on I noticed there were clicks amongst the girls. Half way through the week the better players revolted and left the team because they told me I wasn’t a good coach. I also had one girl pull me aside and tell me the players didn’t think it was fair I was accepting the girls with disabilities. It perplexed me that middle school girls from a privileged, affluent town didn’t see the importance of inclusion. I took a hard line with her to send a very clear message to the entire team: “The girls with disabilities have a spot on the team, I would make sure you can make the team.”
Needless to say a handful of the best players quit and that’s how we ended up with 7 players! I love to win but this year was different, I wanted to make an inclusive team that allowed all the girls to learn, have fun and bond. This is when I met Sarah and learned more about autistic children. This experience forever changed me. I loved every moment I coached that team. You are probably thinking we lost every single game but we didn’t. In fact we made the semi-finals for the town. It was unbelievable!
I spent many hours with Sarah teaching her how to run to the baseline, hold up her hands to receive the pass and shoot. The baseline shot in basketball is one of the hardest but the hours Sarah and I spent practicing shooting was well worth the effort. To witness Sarah scoring in a game was a high light of my year with my ragtag team.
Sarah is 21 now and I haven’t seen her in a while. However, on December 10th we are hosting Dermot’s Dog Pound fundraiser for a 3 year old boy from West Roxbury who is trying to raise funds to get his own Autistic Service Dog. I called Sarah’s mother to ask if they could be guest speakers at the event and I’m happy to tell you that my old friend Sarah will be in the BIG house! Her brother will speak on her behalf!
When Ryan Mason the founder of Parkway InMotion asked if we could host a fundraiser for Dermot I remembered Sarah and how wonderful she was to work with, how much she impacted and forever changed my life. It is because of Sarah I went on the study physical fitness and personal training, which brought me to CrossFit. Life is interconnected in so many fascinating and wonderful ways. I can’t help but to feel emotional as I think about Dermot and how he can help all of us be better people. Even if for just a painful 20:13 AMRAP! Your donation, your presence here to help this little guy will go far.
I hope you are able to join us on December 10th to raise money for Dermot. We are Dermot’s Dog Pound and we are going to rock this out!!
Please let me know if you need to hold a spot for the competition fundraiser. No losers in this competition, only winners!
Or contact Ryan Mason, the founder of Parkway InMotion: [email protected]
If you can not make the fundraiser but want to contribute to Dermot then please visit his fundraising site at: DERMOT