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Student With Special Needs Starts Varsity Game - KOAM TV 7

Student With Special Needs Starts Varsity Game

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Monett, Missouri -

The Monett Cub receiving the biggest ovation Friday wasn't a star athlete or elite college prospect.

It's Juan Agustin. And all of his focus is on one play. 

"Coach Jeremy Lamb said box one, right over there, and shoot it for three," Agustin said, describing the play. 

Agustin has autism. Typically he's in a supporting role as a manager for the boys basketball team. But Friday night, in front of a packed house, all eyes are on him. He's starting for the first time on the varsity squad. And the first play will be Agustin shooting a three.

His coach and teammates say whether he makes the shot doesn't matter.

"Just the experience of putting the jersey on, being able to walk on the floor like his classmates, and to have fun," Head Coach Jeremy Lamb said. 

"We've been going to school together since 7th grade. You know, we've been pretty close," Senior forward Cameron Witt said. "And [Agustin's] always been with me through sports but we've never actually played together, you know, and a lot of us probably take it for granted a bit. Because we get to play this game all the time and there's some people that don't. The fact that we could be actually playing together tonight is pretty special."

Playing together for just a handful of possessions. Which means much more for the manager-turned-player.

"It's not about wins and losses," Lamb said. "We all like to win. But there's more to the game than that. [Using] the influence that you have to reach kids. Be good teammates like these guys are to Juan. That's what it's all about."

And when given the shot, Agustin misses. But he's given another. And more. By both teams. Because when Agustin successfully makes a layup, the points on the scoreboard are nothing compared to the point the players made of what sports can really mean.

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