The basket that won’t be forgotten

The basket that won't be forgotten

It may not have counted, but it was a shot that will not be forgotten as life skills student Kevin Inman scored his first basket against Greenville on Senior Night.

As the team manager, Inman is a part of the team, but on Tuesday, Feb. 11, he was able to suit up for the first (and last time) and step out on to the court.

Head coach Kyle Herrema was able to set it up with Greenville’s coaches so that Inman could score the first shot of the game; his first time to participate in a varsity game.

I know Kevin impacts every single person at Lovejoy and for him to be able to be in front of a crowd of people cheering him on is absolutely incredible.”

— Tanner DeVinny

“Kevin deserves this,” 2013 graduate Tanner DeVinny, who often worked with Inman, said. “He is a kid who never shows any sign of sadness and a kid who will brighten your day. I know Kevin impacts every single person at Lovejoy and for him to be able to be in front of a crowd of people cheering him on is absolutely incredible.”

Just as Inman is a part of the team, the idea to have him score the first basket came from the team.

“I give a lot of credit to the kids in the program,” Herrema said. “Kevin’s been such a part of the program for so long that wanted to see him be a part of Senior Night. We’ve let some of our student assistants play on Senior Night and thought it would be a great idea for Kevin as well. I talked with the Greenville coach and he was all for letting Kevin getting in the game.”

While Greenville is a district opponent, coordinating this moment presented no problems for Herrema.

“It was really quite easy,” Herrema said. “Coach Smith from Greenville said he would definitely like to be a part of the opportunity. I think it really speaks to what kind of people they have over there. It also shows why people get into the profession because it ultimately is about the kids.”

With the stands packed there was an extra energy in gym.

“We were all so excited for the start of the game,” senior Riley Bevan said. “People were running in to make sure they didn’t miss anything. When the announcer yelled Kevin’s name the crowd went insane, I got the chills instantly.”

When the announcer yelled Kevin’s name the crowd went insane, I got the chills instantly.”

— Riley Bevan

From there it was Kevin’s time to shine in the sport he loves most.

“There is no doubt that Kevin loves basketball,” life skills teacher Vindhya DeValla said. “He looks forward to it everyday. He is there in the gym by 8:30 a.m. or even earlier and by the time I get there for the first period, he is already there watching enthusiastically the varsity and JV teams practice. I see the love for the basketball in his eyes as he watches them practice and comments on their shots. They too love to see him there and he gives a high-five to everyone. When they leave at 9:15 for the locker rooms, then Kevin practices shooting baskets. He is pretty good at it. He tries to make as many three pointers as he can – most of the time he makes 10 to 15 of them and then makes some easy two pointers.”

All his practice and time put into basketball paid off on Tuesday night.

With the 6’4” Inman, wearing number 24, introduced as part of the starting lineup, it was soon time for tip off.

Tipping the ball to senior Sam Victor, Victor passed it to senior Jordan Reed who then got the ball back to Inman under the net.

With hundreds of hours of practice over the past few years, Inman’s shot was perfect. With the crowd going wild, Inman turned around and ran to the other side of the court, hands in the air the whole time, a smile as big as it could be.

He always has a smile on his face which brings out the best in everyone.”

— Kyle Herrema

“This opportunity was great because Kevin really loves basketball,” Victor said. “He’s always shooting in practice so he definitely deserves this. He’s always smiling and bringing positivity to my day, he’s taught me to be positive and be grateful. Watching Kevin shoot with a big smile and yelling “FOR 3!” just brings a lot of joy and energy to the game. And he gets buckets.”

With phones recording the moment throughout the stands, it was a moving moment few will forget.

“The gym was exploding with people yelling Kevin’s name,” Bevan said. “The energy throughout the entire gym was at a new level. Everyone was absolutely ecstatic.”

“I was thrilled to see that Kevin had been given this opportunity to shoot,” DeValla said. “[Yesterday] morning we practiced the drill for Senior Night and Kevin was so excited to run through the players and shoot the basket. Coach Herrema also encourages him a lot. I am so glad I got this opportunity to work with Kevin and he starts off my day each day with a bright smile and I truly enjoy working with him.”

One of the most well-known students on campus, Inman is always smiling, always high-fiving, and always positive.

“If you think about it, Kevin is probably one of the most recognizable kids on campus,” Herrema said. “Who hasn’t he given a high-five to at some point? I think that we are all grateful that he doesn’t break anyone’s hand anymore as well. But in all sincerity, he is one the nicest kids. He always has a smile on his face which brings out the best in everyone.”