Crowd Goes Silent As Blind Student Shoots Basketball So She Can Hear The Hoop

Mason Joseph Zimmer
blind student prepares to shoot basketball as coach hits backboard with pole
twitter | @zeelandschools

It's always satisfying when someone who thinks you can't do something is proven wrong, but it's all the more inspiring when a trailblazer shows others like them that they shouldn't count themselves out.

And while advancements in technology and the efforts of some passionate individuals are making that truer for people with disabilities every day in many ways, we tend to see a lot of these success stories in the world of sports.

We all need help sometimes in our daily lives and there's no telling what we can accomplish when we actually have that help.

And in the case of one high school student, that help made it possible for her to achieve a shot that's tricky for even professional basketball players.

On March 22, The Zeeland Public School district in Michigan uploaded a short video to Twitter that featured an 11th-grader named Jules Hoogland shooting a free throw.

blind student prepares to shoot basketball as coach hits backboard with pole
twitter | @zeelandschools

But one of the first things you're likely to notice when you watch the full video is how quiet the crowd is as she's preparing to take her shot.

And if it was hard to pay attention to that due to the unusual sight of this coach hitting the backboard with a yellow pole, that's part of what's going on as well.

Hoogland is blind and the coach was using the pole to let her hear where the backboard is.

student recoils after shooting basketball successfully as coach hits backboard with pole
twitter | @zeelandschools

As we can see, Hoogland used that sound as her guiding star to make a great free throw.

Part of why the crowd is forgoing the rowdiness you often see in even high school sports is that this game is taking place under a Unified sports program.

This means that each competing team is comprised of mix of student-athletes with disabilities and those without them. Those present at the game are thus more invested in seeing these students flourish together than in whether any one team wins or loses.

But while the coach has her own role to play here, the most important member on the team for Hoogland is the girl standing next to her.

blind student prepares to shoot basketball as coach hits backboard with pole
twitter | @zeelandschools

That is her teammate Ally Guffey and she serves as Hoogland's navigator while they're on the court together.

As Hoogland told ABC7, "She's my eyes on the court because I don't have my cane, so I have to put my trust in her to make sure she doesn't let me get hit by balls, and she guides me in the right direction."

Although the pair knew each other in middle school, the Unified sports program has brought them closer together to the point that they're now like sisters.

And while we can see in the full video that Guffey is guiding her from behind, that coordination between them didn't happen overnight.

As Guffey put it, "I just make sure she is all lined up. I had never met anyone who was blind before, so I knew nothing. She put a lot of trust in me. And it just -- we had a lot of trial and error. But we have come very, very far."

h/t: ABC7