Nick Anderson has been a student manager for the Holy Angel’s boys basketball team throughout his junior and senior years of high school. His love for sports was undeniable, even though he never took the court due to cerebral palsy–a disability that kept him on the sidelines. All that changed recently, when he took the court and had his dreams come true with 24 seconds left in the game.
Anderson was dubbed a miracle baby early on, after being born at just 29-weeks gestation. At ten months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors told his mother he would never walk, or if he did, it would be with assistance. Despite the odds, he walked.
His passion for sports began at a young age. By the third grade, he was a team manager for any basketball, football or baseball team that would have him. After enrolling at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minnesota, he continued with his commitment to sports and became the captain of the varsity basketball team.
“He’s been more committed than guys that get the opportunity to play,” said the team’s coach, Larry McKenzie. “After every game, the first text I get on what we can do to improve is always from Nick. He’s a leader of leaders.”
Together, McKenzie and his friend Matthew McCollister, who was the opposing coach, came up with a plan to allow Anderson a chance to fulfill his dream of playing on a varsity team. The plan was to wait until there was a moment in the game when the outcome was not in doubt, and slow things down for Anderson to have a chance to score. The game was tight, and Anderson even offered to forfeit his chance to play, but his teammates wouldn’t hear of that.
With 24 seconds left in the game, Anderson nervously made his way onto the court, donning a Holy Angels jersey with the number 41 on the back, while spectators chanted his name.
“Amazing. Definitely a dream come true,” an emotional Anderson said. “There is no better feeling than stepping on the court with a jersey on. This is something I’ve waited for my entire life.”
While he didn’t have the opportunity to score, he did handle the ball three times. For him, it wasn’t about slowing down the game or scoring, but about a chance to wear the #41 Holy Angels jersey. His hope is that he can be a role model for others with cerebral palsy, and to deliver a message that anything can be achieved.
After all, he did become a player-manager, despite the odds against him.
Watch the video below to see that awesome game: