The Boiling Springs boys basketball team has had an exciting season, which has packed the stands at home games.
They are currently 20-4 with only one loss at home. While their success has drawn huge crowds, one fan originally came to watch a player, not the team.
Christian Marchese is a 16-year-old sophomore, and he is also a special needs student at Boiling Springs High School.
At birth, Christian was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development.
Because of his condition, Christian does not play team sports. “He doesn't have the capability of doing that. It's over his head. He thinks it is all fun, and he doesn't understand the rules,” says Christian's mom, Deb Marchese.
But he loves basketball, and that love connected Christian to a player on the varsity team, junior point guard Austin Pittenger.
“I told him he should come out to a game, and the teacher said she was going to talk to his mom about it, and he has been to every home game since,” said Austin.
But watching wasn't enough.
After a game Austin offered to shoot around with Christian, who was ecstatic. Pretty soon the entire team joined in.
It was a moment that Deb cherishes: “It was priceless, it truly made me cry because they actually took an interest in him and it looked like they were having just as much fun as he was.”
While Christian learns from the team, he's also teaching them. He just doesn't know it.
Head Coach Pat Dieter explained, “We try to instill in our players the idea that you only stand as tall as you are when you are ready to help somebody else. Our motto this year is, 'It's not about you. It's all about we.' So that's part of this.”