A video out of Zeeland, Michigan, that shows a high school junior sinking a free throw is going viral.
In the video, you see Zeeland East High School 11th grader Jules Hoogland, who’s blind, attempting to shoot a basketball into the hoop. The packed gym goes silent as Cheryl Beute repeatedly hits the bottom of the backboard with a long stick. After several knocks, Jules makes the shot, and the ball goes in.
Everyone in the gym erupts with excitement.
Jules never imagined this amount of positivity from her basketball skills. She’s a part of the Unified Sports Program, which gives athletes like her a chance to compete.
“I was like, ‘Everyone’s staring at me, but I can’t see them staring at me, so this is good,'” Jules told FOX 17.
Because Jules is blind, she has help on the hardwood. The girl in the video behind Jules is Ally Guffey.
“She’s my eyes on the court because I don’t have my cane, so I have to put my trust in her to make sure she doesn’t let me get hit by balls, and she guides me in the right direction,” Jules said.
The two are inseparable on and off the court.
“I had never met anyone who was blind before,” Ally said. “So I knew nothing. She put a lot of trust in me. And it just… we had a lot of trial and error. But we have come very, very far. And now we’re in a class together for the past two years.”
They knew each other back in middle school, but the Unified Sports Program made the two grow together almost like sisters.
This is Ally’s senior year, and she plans to see Jules back out on the court.
“So then, like, for that to just be like done is like… it’s hard to think about because this has been like my family for three years,” Ally said.
“I’m really gonna miss you, Ally,” Jules said. “And I know next year, I’m gonna feel the same way.”
This program started several years ago as a chance to make friends.
“To watch the culture shift of our school community really made a difference,” Unified Coach Jessie Steel said. “And just to be able to watch how that’s continued to grow. Students are accepted, students are shown that they matter and given a chance to really prove that to the school body.”
By Matt Witkos, WXMI.