Noah Page is in the seventh grade at Mount Pleasant Middle School. He likes fishing and video games; math is hard for him; and he loves basketball.Noah also struggles with learning, cognitive and physical challenges. A few years ago, he couldn’t read or color within the lines, his grandmother and guardian, Nancy Kirk, said. Noah, who weighed just 3.5 pounds at birth, is small for his age, and he had to wear braces on his feet. But he has worked hard and now attends both regular and exceptional-children classes.A few months ago, when Noah announced that he planned to try out for the school’s seventh-grade boys’ basketball team, his family and teacher tried to prepare him for the very real possibility that he wouldn’t make the team. Competing for a spot against bigger and faster players, Noah did not make the cut, but his enthusiasm led coach Josh Cook to talk to school staff about making a place for Noah, helping at practice and serving as water boy at home games.Noah was thrilled to be part of the team, and Cook said the other kids were happy to have him around. “Noah’s just a great kid,” he said.On March 4, Cook decided to show his thanks to Noah in a special way, making him part of the team for the last home game. Noah, and even his grandparents, didn’t learn he would be suiting up until just before the game, but word spread quickly to administrators, teachers and students. So, in a pair of borrowed shoes and with instructions to follow the boy in front of him, Noah ran into the gym for team warm-ups before an enthusiastic crowd.When it came time for the captains to meet at center court before tipoff, Noah was there.He was introduced with the rest of the team, and when the starting lineup took the floor, Noah stood among them.With cooperation from a “very helpful” Kannapolis Middle School coach, the Mount Pleasant boys ran their opening play as outlined by Cook. Brett Laws passed the ball to Noah, who shot and missed. Both teams stood back as Laws rebounded and gave the ball back to Noah, who kept trying until his third shot went in, and the gymnasium erupted in cheers.Noah spent the rest of the game on the bench but for the last 30 seconds, when both teams, again, without any coaching, backed off to let him shoot.Kirk said it was “breathtaking” to see Noah so happy and the team so supportive. According to teacher Stephanie Blackburn, Noah was “still all smiles” the next day at school, and Cook was reminded why he loves coaching.As for Noah, he had a moment he will always remember, and asked that I convey his gratitude: “Thanks to everybody who made my wish come true,” he said.
Friday, Mar. 14, 2014
Challenged Mount Pleasant Middle School 7th-grader with a lot of fans takes the court, scores
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.
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