As an athlete, sports enthusiast, and aspiring sports journalist, one might say I’m always looking for a “good story”. Throughout middle school I would graze various newspaper articles, read ESPN.com and occasionally catch a sports documentary on TV. However in the eighth grade I stopped searching. Instead of searching for stories, I began to praise and obsess over the miraculous story of Jason McElwain. Never have I seen such sheer determination and courage at one time. To this day, I will still find myself watching the video on YouTube over and over again. McElwain, Born with autism, has forever changed my opinion of, the way I play, and watch sports, knowing determination is an integral part to any team, player, or coach’s success in any aspect of the sports world.
McElwain, although born with a disability, did not let his disability deter him away from sports but towards them. Having a love for sports and specifically basketball, as a child and teenager, he did only what he felt was natural, play. Overcome by adversity, McElwain never thought he was at all “different”, merely a kid that liked to play basketball. As a sophomore, McElwain did not make the basketball team. However, due to a developed love for the game of basketball and for the Greece Athena High School basketball team, coach Jim Johnson welcomed McElwain as the team’s manager. In his three seasons as team manager, Jason had missed only one game. After being cut from the team as a sophomore, to continue his career as the team’s manager, McElwain possesses a trait not common in any athlete, a selfless attitude. With this selfless attitude, McElwain’s focus is wrapped solely around the success of the team, rather than himself. As an athlete, self-determination is seemingly achieved over time. However, McElwain remarkably is determined to support his team and his school, through his raw love of the game of basketball, all while dismissing the fact that he has a disability.
As a direct definition from Webster’s Dictionary, courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, and pain. If the story of Jason is a familiar one, then you would know that courage plays no factor in Jason’s story, to him at least. In McElwain’s story, any first time viewer will see nothing short of righteous acts of courage exerted in only the three short minutes that Jason played in the final game of the season in his senior year. Coach Johnson had placed McElwain on the roster, but promised no playing time. However with three minutes remaining, Jason was given the opportunity to play. Looking up into the stands, the entire student body was holding cardboard cutout faces of Jason, a scene that seemed only present in a March Madness tournament game. To a fan, spectator, or anyone who knows this story cannot help but be astonished as to what actually happened. After missing his first two shots, McElwain caught fire. Hitting three pointer, after three pointer, after three pointer. McElwain hit six three point shots plus one other two point shot for a total of twenty points. As the buzzer sounded, naturally, the fans rushed the court. Although seemingly nothing short of courageous, McElwain feels otherwise. He sees it as doing what he loves, playing basketball. The thrill of being carried off the court by his team and classmates appears to be a small incentive for Jason.
Jason’s story is one that not only touches the hearts of those who hear and watch his remarkable journey, but one that inspires rather than teaches. His attitude and outlook not only on sports but also on life, is one that I try to have in all aspects of my life. As a high school athlete, I find myself becoming more passionate about the sports I play. As a pre-game ritual, I dedicate my performance to someone who has inspired me or has shown how proud he or she is of me. However, whom ever I chose is included with Jason McElwain. For every race and game I dedicate my performance to Jason. His story has inspired me to find a passion for sports rather than to simply play them.