From Logan Young:
Ellie McCadams recently gained a new friend. And on top of that, an entire team of friends and teammates now has her back.
Just having turned 14 in September, Ellie is the newest and youngest honorary member of the Southeast Missouri State University women’s Redhawks basketball team.
And it all started with senior guard Olivia Hackmann.
Near the end of August or early September, Hackmann began to swim weekly with Ellie during her physical-therapy sessions for cerebral palsy. A connection quickly formed between the girls.
Shortly after meeting her, Hackmann decided to take her involvement with Ellie one step further.
“This is all Olivia,” Southeast women’s basketball coach Rekha Patterson said. “Olivia came to me and said, ‘Hey, coach, I met a young girl while she was doing some rehab swimming,’ and she said, ‘Is it OK if we maybe invite her to a practice or to a game?'”
Patterson decided her team could use another member.
“I said, ‘Absolutely, how about we make her a part of the team?’ All of us at some point, we want to be accepted, we want to be liked by someone other than our family who has to like us,” she said with a laugh. “We want to have someone call us a friend.”
So Ellie went to a practice to meet all the women on the team and become acquainted with her new teammates.
“I wanted everybody to meet her,” Rekha said, “and I wanted her to get comfortable around the girls, because these girls can be a little bit …”…
After visiting with the team during a practice, Ellie was ready to take the court.
But first, she had to have the uniform to match the rest of her teammates.
On Nov. 14, Ellie was given her own jersey with the number zero emblazoned on it….
More than anything, Patterson said team members are grateful for the time they have been able to spend with Ellie and are looking forward to what the rest of the season holds.
“She is probably going to give more to us than we give to her, and I’m grateful that her family has allowed for her to be a part of our program,” she said.