Of all the basketball players on the Bernice McNaughton Highlanders, no one would argue that Ben Mowat has the most passion.
“He loves the game and he knows the game inside and out,” says Nick Earle, the team’s head coach.
The 17-year-old from Moncton, who lives with cerebral palsy, has never let his diagnosis keep him from the court. Despite only being able to play with one hand, he still competed in the sport until high school.
“Players started to clue in that half my body was paralyzed so they would force me to that side,” Mowat says.
“It was competitive basketball so it was totally fair play. Anyone would do the same thing.”
That’s when Earle invited Ben to become his team manager – a role he began to embrace.
“I won’t lie, there was a little ache in my heart for him,” says Mowat’s mother, Kim.
As Mowat was embracing his sideline role, his teammates were devising a secret plan. Ben Dool, a key player on the team, would give up his number one jersey so his long time buddy could play.
“I had the opportunity to and I didn’t give it a second thought,” says Dool, a 15-year-old on the squad.
While Mowat was on the court, one of his teammates grabbed a rebound then handed him the ball. He then pulled up at the three-point line and didn’t disappoint.
“He made it and everyone just went nuts,” says Dool.
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His teammates didn’t hold back. They charged onto the court when Mowat was awarded player of the game.
“The guys were jumping up and down like I hit the game winner. It was crazy,” says Mowat.
“It was the best night of my life, 100 per cent.”
Mowat’s mother hopes his story inspires other young people living with disabilities to follow their dreams.
“It was pretty special,” added his mother. “I have no more tears left because I have been crying from 24 hours of excitement.”
Mowat says the whole moment follows their family motto: “Don’t let what you can’t do determine what you can do.”