Hilliard Northwest News

Davidson intramural basketball

Athletes make autistic boy just one of the guys

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Hilliard Davidson High School football coach Brian White is proud of his program’s accomplishments on the field.

He takes just as much pride in how his players conduct themselves off the field, including what they recently did for a fellow student.

Alex Moore, a sophomore at Davidson, has autism, which makes it difficult for him to interact socially and communicate verbally and nonverbally. According to his mother, Mary, he was diagnosed with social phobia at age 5. Two years later, he was diagnosed as being mildly autistic by a psychologist at the Ohio State University.

For the third consecutive year, a group of football players formed a team for Davidson’s 5-on-5 intramural basketball league. This year, they asked Moore to be a part of their team, Team Truth, after learning from assistant principal Nathan Bobek, who oversees the school’s nine intramural programs, that the 16-year-old wanted to participate.

Participants in the intramural programs, which include 3-on-3 basketball, billiards, bowling, golf and Frisbee golf, must be enrolled at Davidson.

“We have a great group of kids and they’re doing something special to help that young man out,” said White, who guided the Wildcats to Division I state championships in 2006 and 2009. “They’re the kind of kids that you want your kids to grow up to be. They’ve done so much for our program and now continue to do it for the school, which is just as impressive.

“We (have) talked ... to (the players) that spend time in our program about making other kids feel special, kids that maybe don’t have the opportunity that they have, but this is something they took upon themselves.”

With 12 teams totaling approximately 130 students, the 5-on-5 basketball league is held each January and culminates with the champion playing a team of faculty members in February.

Two members of Team Truth, seniors Phillipie Motley and Nick Stull, said White makes sure that those involved in his program understand the importance of giving back to their community and school. With that in mind, the football players welcomed Moore to their team.

“Alex was pretty excited when we told him he was going to be on our team,” said Motley, who has committed to the University of Pittsburgh as a defensive back. “It definitely makes you feel good just to help somebody out.”

“This is like giving back on our part,” Stull said. “We’ve seen (football players) before us do something like this, so it’s our turn to give back and give something to somebody else who deserves it.”

According to his mother, Moore has been involved with two community service clubs at Davidson: Interact Club, which works with the Hilliard Rotary Club, and Key Club, which works with the Kiwanis Club of Hilliard. He also was a member of the Weaver Middle School choir.

But intramural basketball marked the first time Moore showed interest in an organized sport, his mother said.

“He is having a lot of fun,” Mary said. “He doesn’t even know who wins the game. He’s not interested in the winning and the losing thing. He’s just interested in the fun of it.”

Mary said her son’s teammates make sure he gets ample playing time and they cheer for him when he makes a basket. In a game Jan. 15, Moore scored eight points and played point guard for much of the contest.

“It helped me feel better because they wanted to play with me,” Moore said when asked about being a part of a team.

Mary lauded Motley, Stull and the other members of Team Truth for including her son on the team and helping to build his confidence.

“We could not be happier that these students included and encouraged him (to be a part of) the program right from the start, without hesitation,” she said. “We were concerned that they would look at him differently and consider him to be a distraction or problem. We couldn’t have been more wrong The parents of these students should be commended for raising such fine young men.”

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