March Madness is beginning today. For our family, and specifically, Zach, tonight is a big night. It’s the beginning of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball tournament. Zach is the manager for the Hope College Women’s Basketball team. And Hope is in the tournament and hosting Round 1.
From the beginning, we believed Zach assisting the team would be a great opportunity for Zach. What we’ve learned, again, is that this is also beneficial for the team. It’s a win/win — for Zach, the players, coaches and fans. So today, at the beginning of March Madness, I want to share with you an excerpt from Immeasurably More. It is a chapter written by Coach Morehouse, Hope College Women’s Basketball Head Coach:
My Man Zach and Coach Hayes
Zach has been a great addition to our team. He joined Rich Hayes (we call him Coach Hayes), who has some cognitive development challenges and is fifty-five years old. Together they form the dynamic duo. Rich has been with me for 16 years and really took Zach under his wing. To observe those two laugh, tease, and bicker is a thing to behold! They both have helped assist our team in breaking down the barriers between people with and without special needs. If you asked our players, they would tell you that Zach and Rich are just part of the team. They expect and love their involvement in our practices, so much so that when either is gone, the first question (as it would be with a coach or teammate) is “where’s Zach [Rich]?” And you talk about reliable! Both of these guys are at practice 30 minutes or more before we start, pumped up and ready!
Someone asked me last year how it was going with special needs individuals helping out with my program. My response: I can’t imagine going to practice without My Man, Zach and Coach Hayes. They make both me and my team better. In no way are they a burden; they’re a blessing!