On Saturday night, March 4th, at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, the Greece Athena basketball team won the Class AA high school basketball title with a 54-51 win over Irondequoit. Steve Kerr broke a 51-51 tie with 20 seconds to go, connecting on a three pointer. Afterward, team manager Jason McElwain said it’s his “dream come true” to win the sectional title. The magical story seemingly has no end.Since the story aired, people from all over America and abroad have seen and heard about J-Mac. CBS Evening News came to Rochester the following week to do a story, and the response from viewers was so overwhelming, they aired it again the following night. That’s something they’ve never done before. They were here again on Wednesday, and Steve Hartman will have another report, this one dealing more with the way certain schools like Greece Athena have integrated autistic students like Jason in to mainstream of school life.A young man like this one comes around once in a lifetime, and we were very proud to be the first time around, here’s the original story that aired on February 17th.:
Last night, we showed the amazing video of a kid with autism who did the unthinkable at a recent Greece Athena basketball fame. He scored 20 points in the last four minutes. Dave Yates sat down with this young star about what seems like a fairy tale dream.
It really doesn’t get much better than this, a true example of how sports can create a positive experience. It was the type of story a Hollywood studio would dream up. The team manager comes off the bench and scores in his final home game. But Greece Athena senior Jason McElwain made this dream a reality and then some, scoring 20 points.
“My first was an air ball, by a lot. Then I missed a layup and then as soon as the first shot went in and then the second shot, as soon as that went in I just started to catch fire,” says Jason.
Like any good Hollywood story, this one has a twist. Not only had Jason never played in a varsity game before, he’s also autistic.
“This is the first moment Jason has ever succeeded and proud of himself. I look at autism as the Berlin Wall, he cracked it,” says Jason’s mom, Debbie McElwain.
“I’ve had a lot of thrills in coaching and I’ve coached a lot of wonderful kids, but I’ve never experienced something like this ever in my life, you know other than my own personal family things. My emotions, I couldn’t stop crying,” says Athena head coach Jim Johnson.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy for Jason. His autism is a condition that has made some people uncomfortable to be around him. Obviously the kids at Athena don’t feel that way.
“He’s a cool kid, you just get to know him. You get used to being around him. A couple weeks ago he missed practice because he was sick and you feel differently when he’s not around because brings humor and life to the team,” says Athena basketball player Levar Goff.
Jason’s accomplishment on the court was nice, but he’s not done yet.
“If Jason gets a high school diploma, that will be my biggest success.”
Jason said that when they lifted him up on their shoulders after the game he felt great… kinda like the way he made everyone around him feel. He wants to dedicate that game to all the graduating seniors at Athena.