Coach And Team Gives Player His Moment In The Spotlight

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With only seconds left on the clock, seventh grade student, Nick Grippo completes the shot that would make any parent proud, he sinks a basket at the buzzer and drives the crowd to its feet. For parent Denise Grippo, the play was more than she could have ever hoped for; her son Nick is autistic.

Nick is part of the William T. Rogers Middle School boys basketball team. He had expressed interest earlier in the year about playing and Todd White a special education teacher and coach for the school, along with Nick’s classroom teacher, approached Denise about letting Nick play.

“He’s having the time of his life, he’s part of a team. Everybody knows his name and for a child with autism, that’s really great,” said Denise.

The play that brought the crowd to their feet was captured by a teammate on a cell phone, as was the cameraman’s utter elation as he cheered and dropped the phone.

The coach had designed a play called the “Nick play”, said Jennifer Greco, a paraprofessional who assists Nick on the team.

“The boys, standing on the side do an inbound pass to one of the boys, Nick runs around another player and they pass to Nick,” said Greco whose cell camera was used to capture the moment.

It was the first time they had ever done the play during a game.

“They start setting the play up and the crowd starts chanting his name, then the cheerleaders chant his name,” said Greco. “They pass it to Nick, he shoots and scores and the crowd goes wild. After each win, Nick does the Conga line into the locker room. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

It was something out of a movie, said his mom Denise.

“The boys, I can’t say enough about them,” she said. “Just awesome. They’ve taken him under their wing and made him part of the team. The parents should be so proud they have raised such wonderful, wonderful boys.”


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