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A Wanna-Be Hoopster

Challenging lessons from an autistic high school athlete

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
March 24, 2006

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A Wanna-Be Hoopster

A special needs student,
he dreamed of the day
his coach would say "Jason,
it's your turn to play."

But Jason McElwain
was hardly convinced
his dream would be realized.
He sat on the bench.

While dressed in his street clothes
as managers are,
this wanna-be hoopster
was hardly a star.

He gave the team water.
He handed out towels.
He cheered for his teammates
and protested fouls.

Autistic and awkward,
and often left out,
young Jason refused
to get angry or pout.

He did as requested
and honored his team.
But never gave up
on his unlikely dream.

And then came the last game
and out of the blue
the coach said, "Suit up, son.
Tonight's game's for you."

He sat with his teammates
all beaming with pride.
His team dominated.
Their lead was quite wide.

Just then he heard "Jason,
it's your turn. You're in!
You're part of the team
so go share in our win."

Good Lord, it was magic
as everyone screamed.
This special needs student
was living his dream.

In the space of four minutes,
he scored twenty points.
The grandstands went wild.
Every fan in the joint

knew Jason was gifted.
The whole crowd agreed
that labels are lethal
when you've special needs.

To be called autistic,
you're thought of as odd.
You're misjudged as if you've been
orphaned by God.

How hurtful. How stupid.
How wrong can folks be.
Quite often these kids
are much smarter than we.

From Jason McElwain
we all have been shown...
You can't judge another
by what he's most known.

Within every person
God's image is seen.
So why don't we help them
discover their dreams?

Comments (4)


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IdaLynn Wenhold from Naperville IL writes:
March 24, 2006
Greg communicates a message we all need to hear - and be reminded of - that God has gifted each and every person in some way. It is our job to help others discover and use those gifts. And many times it means taking off our human blinders and seeing through God's Eyes.



Brian Mack from Grand Rapids, MI writes:
March 24, 2006
Greg,

This week's entry hit very close to home. My son, while not autistic, has some nuerological difficulties that are often manifested in similar ways. He is a very intelligent, sensitive, and high functioning boy, but is sometimes awkward in relating to other kids or left out because of his differences.

I saw the news story on Jason and was quite moved, as I believe most people were. How could you not be?

Not until reading this piece, did I draw a connection between the two. Thanks for reminding me of what an awesome and unique gift from God I have been given in my son.



rosemary macdonald from wheaton,IL writes:
March 24, 2006
Thank you,Greg!

The Jonathan's Kids gang at glen ellyn covenant church has passed your poem around and we appreciate your Godly view of the special needs population. What a great story, and what a great poem!

Rosemary Macdonald

Gayle Lin from Smithville, MO writes:
April 25, 2006
I enjoy your verses so much and would like to link to some of them in my blog on xanga.

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PO BOOKS BY GREG ASIMAKOUPOULOS
Sunday Rhymes & Reasons
Published June 4, 2009

Sunday Rhymes and Reasons is a compilation of inspirational poetry by America's pastor/poet laureate, Greg Asimakoupoulos. In this, his third volume of poetry, Pastor Greg paints word pictures that portray both the struggle and fulfillment that define a life of faith. His repertoire of rhymes celebrate rite-of-passage occasions like birth, baptism, marriage and death as well as the major holidays of the church and culture. It is a volume that illustrates the poet's love of words and of popular culture. The author dips his brush into a paint box of hubris, humor and honesty.

"Gloria and I have been encouraged by word pictures from Greg's pen that have celebrated both our ministry and God's presence in our world."Bill Gaither, Gospel music composer/performer

"Gifted poet Greg Asimakoupoulos is a dear friend of our family. His poetry blesses, comforts, entertains, and provides inspiration for every season of life."Natalie Grant, singer/songwriter/recording artist

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