A high school basketball team manager with Down syndrome is being celebrated for demonstrating true sportsmanship in defeat at the state championships last weekend.
Moments after Lakeville North beat Hopkins High School in the 4A state basketball championship game, second-place medals were placed around the necks of the Hopkins players, and several players promptly removed them. A few on Twitter said it showed a lack of grace in defeat.
But Hopkins team manager Grant Petersen, a senior born with Down syndrome, had the opposite reaction. When his name was called, he jumped up and down, raised his arms and gave two thumbs up to his family in the stands.
KARE 11's Lindsey Seavert was among those who tweeted a photo of the moment, an image taken by Hopkins teacher Jarrin Williams. The moment brought tears to the eyes of some in the crowd, KARE 11 reported.
Grant's parents, Monica and Jerry Petersen, saw their son's reaction on the arena screen and knew it was pure Grant, KARE 11 reported.
"From the heart, and it's what it is all about. Seeing the look on his face made it all worthwhile, whether win or lose doesn't matter," Jerry Petersen told KARE. "Grant has been teaching us since he was old enough to crawl. We're very proud."
Few were faulting the Hopkins players much for reacting with deep disappointment to the 2-point loss. MPR blogger Bob Collins said the reaction was understandable. "It’s just the way humans are. They’ll get over the loss, but a smile is an unrealistic expectation to have of any young person in the immediate aftermath of the struggle," Collins wrote.
Indeed, dejection is an obvious reaction for high school kids after a tough state tournament loss, Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins writes Tuesday. Instead of belaboring the reaction of the players, we ought to celebrate the reaction of their manager, Scoggins says.
"It was a beautiful moment, a kid overjoyed to get a medal in a sport he loves," Scoggins writes. "Unwittingly, Grant showed all of us what grace and sportsmanship look like."
Stay tuned – an effort is underway on Twitter to feature Grant on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.