As the girls’ basketball team manager at Camden Catholic High School in New Jersey, Kate Spadaro has put in some serious work over the past four years. Because of her commitment to helping the team run like a well-oiled machine, the senior with Down syndrome was rewarded with an incredible experience: Stepping onto the court as a starter.

Wearing No. 35, Spadaro was inserted into the starting lineup Thursday night, but before she took her place for tip-off, the public address announcer introduced her to an enthusiastic crowd that included her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Of course, that was only part of Spadaro’s special night. Once the ball was tipped, she drilled a jumper from about 8 feet out, and the crowd went wild. On the next timeout, Spadaro broke down in tears of joy on the bench.

“It means so much to me,” Spadaro told 6 Action News. “I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have friends. So it’s just really awesome.”

The support Spadaro received meant the world, especially because the 18-year-old lost her mother to cancer two years ago.



“This school is just one incredible place. You know, one of the things they say here is it’s a place for everyone, there’s something for everyone here. That’s not just talk,” her father, Jerry, said.

Here are some highlights from the game:



When Spadaro isn’t handling her responsibilities during basketball season, she has pom poms in her hands. As one of the most passionate cheerleaders at the school, she roots for everyone who has “Irish” inscripted on their jerseys as much as they applaud her.

“I am just acting like one of the girls that is all I ever wanted to be. I just love that I can come out and share my voice because I love being loud,” Spadaro said in September.

Who wouldn’t love having Spadaro at their school?