Few things feel as good as hitting a basket at just the right moment during a game. For just a few seconds, you’re a hero on the court.
Jules Hoogland of Zeeland East High School in Zeeland, Michigan recently got the opportunity to experience this situation as she sunk a free throw on her first try during a game last week.
More amazing than just making the shot, she did it despite being blind.
In the video above, Hoogland prepares for the free throw.
The crowd goes silent, as the only sound you hear is a paraprofessional hitting the backboard to show the athlete where the basket is. Hoogland takes the shot, banking it right into the basket on her first attempt.
The crowd goes wild!
And so did the internet.
Zeeland Public Schools has a program for inclusive sports, allowing students with special needs to join and play. The program has led to many positive outcomes for the district and students.
Hoogland’s game was inspiring to many.
She was born prematurely, causing abnormal blood vessel growth in her eyes. By the age of three, she was completely blind.
One of a set of triplets, Hoogland has a sister who is sighted, and a brother who passed away when they were four weeks old.
She started playing basketball when she was in middle school.
She even joked about the pressure from the crowd watching her, saying:
“I was really nervous because all these people are staring at me. Luckily, I couldn’t see them staring at me.”
The moment was a wholesome one shared widely online.
Nathan VandeGuchte, a special education teacher with Zeeland public schools spoke on how these inclusive sports have improved students’ lives.
“The positive and enthusiastic environment our student body created on Tuesday is something our athletes won't forget!”
“The lens with which many of our special education students are viewed has now been forever changed. They know that they are important, and they recognize that they are contributing members of our student body!”
He also talked about Hoogland’s practice to be able to make that shot:
“Jules has worked so hard over the years at getting the feel for that shot.”
“It was so moving to see her hit that shot again in front of 2,500 people. We couldn't have been more excited for her and her family.”