As a regular halftime fixture, Marshfield senior Ethan Maddox gave the Lady Jays crowd something else to cheer for this past season, if only for just a few seconds.
“We’re just a little family in Marshfield,” said Marshfield girls basketball junior Maile Peck. “Everybody loves him and everybody knows Ethan is the half court shooter.”
It’s fitting for the Marshfield senior who has spent years cheering for his Blue Jays.
“If he’s ever at any sports competition, he’s always the loudest one in the room,” said Ethan’s mom Lori Young.
Ethan never had the chance to play varsity sports. So this season, the Lady Jays found a different way to get him out of the stands and onto the sidelines.
“They came out and they were like ‘we want him to be the manager’ and it was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I cried,” Lori said.
For Ethan, there was only one answer.
“I was like “‘oh yeah, bring it on’,” he said.
Despite Ethan’s confidence, Lori was never sure she’d see her son play such a big role for the team he loves.
“Having an autistic kid is not easy,” she said. “We’ve been through the he’s been bullied phase, and to watch anybody bully your child as a parent is excruciating.”
It’s pain far too many families feel, and something the Lady Jays were determined to ease.
“Not only is he a great basketball manager, but he’s a great friend,” said Marshfield basketball junior Brooklyn Crawford. “On and off the court, he is just somebody you can talk to and laugh with all the time.”
Those moments aren’t reserved for just the gym, because Ethan stands out all around town.
“We can’t go anywhere that [people] aren’t like ‘Hey Ethan, how are you doing?’ and I’m like ‘who is that?’ and he says ‘I don’t know.’ Everybody knows him,” Lori said.
These days, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who Ethan is.
That’s because two weeks ago, the Lady Jays surprised Ethan with his own varsity Letterman jacket; paid for by the players themselves.
“It was really special, and we just thought his Letterman jacket would be something he could hold onto forever and so he could remember us,” Brooklyn said.
“I was like ‘Oh yeah, I want to have this for my whole life’,” Ethan said about his jacket.
The surprise came with a social-distancing drive-by. Teammates and friends coming to see Ethan’s new look.
“I mean there had to have been 20 or 30 cars, full of people, the girls from the team, people from the football team,” Lori said. “We had teachers, we had everybody all coming by to tell him how much they missed him and how much they love him, telling him how great he looked in his jacket.”
It’s the perfect gift certain to be a fixture in Ethan’s wardrobe for life.
“A lot of kids don’t get enough love,” Lori said. “And my kid gets a whole town. That’s awesome.”
Love offered by a community that knows Ethan is a teammate worth celebrating.