DESOTO, MO. (KPLR) – People called it the best high school basketball game ever Tuesday night: the girls JV game at DeSoto High School.
Brooke Kirby, 18, played in her first game for the DeSoto Dragons, though she`d been part of the team for years
It had been just another game on the schedule, yet by game time it had a once in a lifetime feel.
The cheerleaders were cheerier and the starting lineups brought down the house!
‘#20, Brooke Kirby!!!!’ the announcer bellowed to wild cheers from the crowd.
Kirby, the team manager for 3 years, who has autism, was a starting guard.
Fans came with signs cheering her on and Kirby delivered, scoring the team`s first basket and two more.
‘I was so happy. I made a basket,’ she beamed.
‘If you don`t have somebody to have a shoulder to cry on or someone to share a moment with, then you don`t have a whole lot,’ said her mother, Cara Kirby-House.
Her school, and team, arranged it all, to raise autism awareness and to benefit the charity Autism Speaks.
Mostly it was payback for Brooke; who they called missing puzzle piece.
The crowd was full of people wearing T-Shirts with Brooke`s name spelled out on puzzle pieces.
On the back, the shirts read, ‘What`s up Toots?’
Brooke calls just about everyone ‘Toots’.
‘It`s great; everybody cheering my name. `Hey Toots`.. Toots,’ she said, smiling, pointing and snapping her finger all at once
‘I definitely look up to Brooke. She`s a big inspiration to us and the whole team,’ said friend and teammate, Kelsey Kingsland.
‘You could be having a real rough game, a real rough practice, she`ll come up and give you a hug. It just puts things in perspective a lot,’ said coach, Kim Kinsgland.
‘I`m really proud of her. She`s come a long way. I thought she was going to get made fun of. They treat her like a normal person here. That`s what`s great about this school. They accept her,’ said Brooke`s brother, Brendan, a 9th grader. ‘She does have a good shot. I`m going to hear about it for a while,’ he laughed.
Brooke wore #20 because it’s her favorite player’s number; that favorite player is Kelsey Kingsland, who gave Brooke her jersey for the game. Kelsey wore #45.
DeSoto beat Fredericktown 42-28, but everyone in the building felt like a winner – especially Brooke.
De Soto High School Basketball Team Raises Autism Awareness