Kimball Miller is a junior at Sugar-Salem high school who has Down syndrome and loves basketball. Kimball has served as team manager for the Sugar-Salem Diggers’ boys basketball team for all three of his years in high school so far, but Kimball had never played in a game until last Wednesday.
In the Diggers C-team game against Teton, Kimball finally got in the game. In Kimball’s few minutes on the court, he posted a couple impressive highlights like making one of two baskets and executing a sweet between-legs dribble.
When Kimball scored, his teammates jumped up and down in excitement like they had just won a state tournament game.
“They built a relationship in practice so they were excited to get him in there,” said C-team head coach Bryant Harris. “When he made that basket it was fun to see them get up and celebrate his success. There’s more to life than basketball. So, it was fun to see Kimball come in.”
When Kimball’s mother, Ruth Miller, showed him a video of his performance posted by Jordan Saunders on Facebook, Kimball beamed with a quiet delight.
“He was really proud of what he had done with his friends, but he was pretty humble about it,” Ruth said. “He was pretty quiet about it. There wasn’t a lot of conversation about it but there was a big smile.”
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Harris told his team he planned to put Kimball in the game that evening. The young men were excited to get Kimball in the game and Harris feels it gave his boys a little something extra to play for.
Kimball’s responsibilities as manager include helping with drills and other activities especially in practice. He goes to each game wearing a dress shirt and tie and also helps out in practice.
Sugar-Salem head coach Shawn Freeman said Kimball helps out with a variety of things, but that his most important contribution is his example.
“Mainly, he’s the glue guy and a constant reminder of what a team player really is,” Freeman said.
Kimball has spent time with the team in practices over the last three years and even shoots a few shots in practice. In that time, Kimball and the players, especially the players on the freshmen team, have built a strong bond.
“He knows all the members on all the teams,” Ruth said. “He is very familiar with all of the kids who have made the team. He’s good friends with all of them. They give him high fives and he is just able to be a part of that basketball team.”
Kimball’s Journeys Developmental Disability Agency worker, Caleb Arnold, helps Kimball complete all of his responsibilities as team manager and makes sure he doesn’t get hurt or get in the way during practice activities.
Ruth said she is grateful Kimball has a great coach and Journey’s worker.
“(Coach Harris) has been very understanding and inclusive of Kimball,” Ruth said. “Caleb Arnold has really stepped up in helping Kimball develop his basketball skills and making sure he has a good work out when he goes to the practices.”
Ruth loved seeing Kimball be able to live out his dream on the court.
“It means a lot to me as a mom that Kimball had a chance to show his abilities,” Ruth said. “He loves basketball and it meant a lot to him to just be a part of it for a moment.”