After being told he didn’t make the South Fremont basketball team his freshman year, Spencer Hathaway started to cry. Those tears soon disappeared when Hathaway was chosen as team manager.
“I started to cry, but I didn’t mind,” Hathaway said. “All the sudden I started being the manager and it was kind of awesome to be with the team.”
After four years as the team manager, Hathaway finally got his chance to play in the game when the Cougars were up big on Salmon in St. Anthony on January 18 this year. Coach Pope put Hathaway in in the fourth quarter, Hathaway hit two free throws and the crowd went wild.
Inserting Hathaway into the game is something that Pope and his coaching staff has been thinking about for months.
“He’s tried out for the team every year for four years and he’s never made the team,” Pope said. “Way back at tryouts it was something we started thinking about and decided we wanted to do it. Then I talked to his parents and told them about it and told them we wanted it to be a surprise. We didn’t tell Spencer until the day we did it.”
When Pope told his players they were going to play Hathaway in a game they were thrilled to give their friend the opportunity he had dreamed of.
“(They reacted) like we had won the state championship,” Pope said. “They were so excited. They were probably just about as excited about it as Spencer was. They went and put their money together and bought him some new basketball shoes and we got him his uniform and everything. The whole team was just as pumped up about it as Spencer.”
Spencer said his friend’s gift made him feel good.
“I felt like I was on the team,” Hathaway said. “Every year it felt like I was on the team doing stuff with them. This year I had no idea that they did that for me. It was kind of spiritual to do that.”
Hathaway feels close to the players on his basketball team.
“All of the players are good friends of mine,” he said.
Pope said Hathaway has more than earned the privilege to play on the basketball court.
“He is just a great kid a wonderful spirit to have around and he’s really just one of those kids everyone loves be around,” Pope said. “Nobody loves basketball more than Spence, nobody loves the South Fremont Cougars more than Spence. It’s all of his heart and soul and we just love having him as a part of our team.”
Pope said Spencer’s presence helps his team to be better people.
“It’s one of those things that puts everything in perspective,” Pope said. “Of course we all want to win every night. We all want to win a championship and go to state and all that but the truth is there are a lot more important things in life and having someone around like Spencer reminds you of that every single day.”