Jamie has 3 mentors at school, Gary Irons is a special education teacher at Lake Mills, Tammy Hesse is a learner assistant and his coach Dan Rice.
Tammy Hesse told the Globe Gazette:
“They say for people who have autism that exercise is very good. It helps with his anxiety and behavior. Pretty much the first hour of every day he shoots baskets.”
It was watching Jamie in the gym that gave Tammy Hesse the idea about Jamie joining the basketball team.
Jamie was welcomed to the team.
Jamie was diagnosed with autism after he turned 2 and since his diagnosis his mother, Lori Carrilla has been supporting Jamie and her older son.
The family relocated to Lake Mills in 2010 after Jamie’s father died of brain cancer.
Lori tells of how Lake Mills has surpassed all of her expectations.
She told the Globe Gazette:
“But there are days you enjoy so much. Some days he’s had a bad day at school and we sit and talk about it. The next day, he’ll come home and you will know that talk did something.”
Lori explained that the basketball team was becoming very important to Jamie and that he was part of a structured team environment for the first time.
The article describes one eighth-grade basketball game between Lake Mills and Belmond-Klemme.
‘The officials wanted to see Underwood score. So did his teammates. So did the opposition. So did everyone in the gym.’
Within the final seconds Jamie scored.
Gary Irons said about this event:
“It puts things in perspective” and “It breaks barriers between conference schools.”
The paper also reports that Jamie’s involvement within the community is only just beginning.
He played the drums during a half-time break in the game.
Lori told the Globe Gazette:
“I had tears in my eyes half the time he was out there. Just trying to make a basket and seeing the goodness of the players, the opponents … I was excited. Everybody stood up and cheered, even the opponents, all their parents stood. That will stick with me forever.”
You can read the full article by Jared Patterson in the Globe Gazette here