Sports

Crowd goes wild after blind Michigan high schooler sinks free throw

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Posted at 1:17 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 17:13:07-04

ZEELAND, Mich.  — A video out of Zeeland 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.

After several knocks, Jules makes the shot, and the ball goes in.

Everyone in the gym erupts with excitement.

This game was part of the Unified Sports Program for special education students.

These student athletes compete at other schools in our area.

This video was shot during the Zeeland East vs. West game this week.

Video of blind Zeeland high schooler sinking basket goes viral

A blind 11th grader never imagined this amount of positivity from her basketball skills. Jules Hoogland is part of the Unified Sports Program. It gives athletes like Jules a chance to compete in our area.

Jules says this program is more than sports. It's also an opportunity to create lasting friendships. After a couple of taps on the backboard, Jules Hoogland takes her shot.

"I was like, 'Everyone's staring at me, but I can't see them staring at me, so this is good,'" Hoogland 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," Hoogland said.

The two are inseparable on and off the court.

"I had never met anyone who was blind before. 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," Guffey said.

They knew each other back in middle school, but the Unified Sports Program made the two grow together almost like sisters.

"I'm really gonna miss you, Ally. And I know next year, I'm gonna feel the same way," Hoogland added.

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. 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," Unified Coach Jessie Steel said.

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," Guffey said.

"I think it's humbling when you realize that those goals are a reality and that those are the relationships that now exist in our campus in our community," Unified Coach Nate Vande Guchte said.

Matt Witkos at WXMI first reported this story.