By John Bombatch
FRANKLIN – When his stepson said he’d been added to the Franklin High School boys varsity basketball roster on Thursday, Robert Cain and his wife Debbie knew something was up.
They learned when they bought their tickets to Friday’s game that their son, Mark White, the team’s 21-year-old manager, who has autism, would be playing in the game.
It was a simple gesture, arranged and agreed upon by the visiting Monroe High School Hornets and the host Franklin Wildcats, but it was a gesture that White won’t soon forget.
White was an honorary starter for Friday night’s contest. After playing on the left flank, White took a pass from Franklin teammate Eli Staton from the right side. Then, with players from both teams looking on, he scored a jump shot from inside the paint.
The ball bounded off the back rim and in for a ceremonial score.
The capacity crowd went crazy, with fans from both teams cheering him on.
“It was really neat,” Debbie said. “We’re really thankful that they did this. We knew they were going to try and get Mark involved, but we had no clue as to how.”
Robert said White came home from Thursday’s practice and told him “Dad, they made me a player! I’m number 41.”
White was mobbed by his teammates, hugged coach Brian Bales’ son, his parents and pretty much anyone else he could wrap his arms around, after the score.
“It was incredible! I’ve been wanting to do that for years. And it was a good shot, too! It was incredible,” White said.