Linn basketball team honors player with autism

1 month 5 days 23 hours ago Sunday, February 23 2020 Feb 23, 2020 Sunday, February 23, 2020 7:08:00 PM CST February 23, 2020 in Sports
By: Nathalie Jones, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter

LINN - A lot of the times it's hard to know the affect you'll have on someone until after it's all said and done, but one Linn basketball player made an immediate impact in his final season.

Linn High School's Chris Kmiec loves sports, specifically basketball. The senior, who has autism, managed the Wildcats for three years before joining in on the action.

"He kept saying he wanted to play basketball, wanted to play basketball. This coming fall he kept saying it, so, we kind of let him be a part of it," said Clay Crouch, Linn High School's basketball coach.

Kmiec said he's always loved basketball, "I started playing on day one."

He started on the "frosh," team which is mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores, but he soon got the call up to varsity.

"He brings the smiles. He's a funny kid and you can't not be happy around Chris," Crouch said.

In his time at Linn High School, Kmiec got involved in just about every way he could. He ran cross country, lifted weights, and memorized every detail of the game.

"He's always been around sports, he loves it. He knows probably everything that goes on. You come into class he's telling you about how the game went or who won last night and what time we play the next day," said Kmiec's teammate Parker Patterson.

The senior has had no shortage of special moments in the last few months. The cross country team honored Kmiec with his own letterman's jacket at the end of the season.

So, the basketball team decided they would honor him in their own way. Crouch said they let Kmiec know he would suit up for senior night, but kept the fact that he would play a surprise.

Kmiec started the game and managed to get two shots, but didn't sink either one.

"We were hoping he would get back in. He went back in with about 59 seconds left," said Kmiec's teammate Jackson Voss.

With less than 20 seconds left in the game, he banked in a three to increase the Wildcat's lead to 65-41.

"The whole crowd went crazy," Kmiec said.

Crouch said it's a small thing to do for someone who means so much to the team.

"He's just such a blast to have around. I mean he really is like the funniest kid ever. I think that's what we're going to miss the most," Crouch said.

Voss said, "If anyone's ever down, you just go talk to Chris and you'll be happy by the end of it."

Kmiec's time in Linn is winding down as graduation looms ahead. Although Kmiec said he will miss his time on his home court, it's safe to say his legacy will stay there long after he leaves.

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