Imagine entering your first game as a college basketball player and draining a three-pointer the first time the ball hits your hands. That’s precisely what happened to Rachel Grace, the team manager for East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania who happens to have Down syndrome.
Not only did the 22-year-old connect on her first shot on Senior Night, but she drilled her second, too, and ended up scoring 8 points in a three-minute exhibition period against Kutztown University.
“This is really exciting for me. It’s like the best opportunity of my life getting a chance to play in this game,” Grace told WFMZ.
As for how she performed under pressure?
“My mind was completely clear. I was calm, and the best part was going crazy. It was the best thing that ever happened,” she told WNEP.
WBB: @ESU_WBB manager Rachel Grace SHINED in her big moment tonight! Grace suited up as an official member of the team in a 3 minute exhibition vs. Kutztown! #RG3 #WhereWarriorsBelong pic.twitter.com/38mbEBuBCQ
— ESU Warriors (@ESUWarriors) February 27, 2019
East Stroudsburg head coach Diane Decker checked in with Kutztown’s head coach Janet Malouf to see if they could arrange the pre-game scrimmage just so Grace could get her chance to shine after serving as a dedicated manager for three years.
“Sometimes there’s so many things that are much bigger than playing a basketball game and this is one of those stories that is that,” Malouf said.
Not only did Grace light up the gym, but she was also honored during the senior night ceremony, where members from the school’s men’s basketball team handed her a rose.
So how is Grace so deadly from long range? Maybe it helped that she picked up a few tips from Steph Curry last year after he flew her to California to attend a Golden State Warriors game.
“When I made that shot, I thought of him because three-point shooting is me and Steph Curry’s thing,” Grace said after her rockstar performance in her first college game.
Who can argue with that statement?