SHADY SPRING, WV (WOAY) – When you love basketball as much as Chase Mullins, it only makes sense to join the high school team.
That’s why Shady Spring head coach Ronnie Olsen was adamant Chase become the manager, despite having down syndrome.
“Having Chase join the team shows his (Olsen’s) character and what type of person he is – over and above coaching,” Chase’s father Jeff said.
But don’t get it twisted, Olsen and his coaching staff are just as grateful to have Chase right next to them on the bench.
“When he first came on, people said, ‘Thanks for what you’re doing for Chase.’ But it’s really the other way around,” Olsen said about his manager. “He’s like one of my kids. Whenever I’m unhappy or the kids are upset from a halftime tongue lashing, or after the game, Chase just changes the atmosphere in the whole locker room. He’ll come in as the calming force.”
“Everybody that comes in contact with Chase understands how giving he is, how understanding he is and how he lights up the room,” Jeff said.
Chase’s character has rubbed off on the rest of the team, teaching his classmates valuable life lessons.
“Never take anything for granted,” fellow senior Tommy Williams said. “Chase is always happy and I think we can learn from that.”
Chase’s constant positivity is even more amazing, considering the health issues he has faced.
“He had a leaky mitral valve and an AV canal defect,” Chase’s mother Andrea said.
After Chase’s first open-heart surgery when he was just an infant, he needed it redone a second time before he even turned two years old.
“They repaired it the first surgery, we got home and the stitching had come apart,” Andrea said.
Yet, Chase continues to wear that million-dollar smile and has helped the Tigers start the year 9-0.
“He even got to go on the road with the team and spend his first night away from home,” Andrea said. “He stayed with a few of the guys in the hotel room.”
“It really makes him feel special, and truly makes him feel like he’s part of something great,” Jeff said.
For more on Chase and the Shady Spring Tigers, including his experience playing with the Raleigh County Special Olympics, please watch the video above.