How a Blind Athlete’s Basketball Shot Inspired an Entire Community


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If crowd behavior could be compared to a car going from zero to 100 miles per hour in about a second, that was it.

People packing the gymnasium at Zeeland East High School initially sat in stunned silence as junior Jules Hoogland lined up his shot for East’s Unified basketball team as an assist hit a stick on the support beam behind the panel.

The crowd was made up of students, parents, teachers and officials from Zeeland East and Zeeland West high schools, who gathered for an assembly to watch the unified teams from each school compete.

Hoogland, who is blind, then hoisted his shot off the backboard and into the net.

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Cue the eruption of the crowd, which made enough noise and had people on their feet, like the shot had won a state championship.

“She was so happy that she pulled it off,” said Karen Hoogland, Jules’ mother. “It’s great to know that her school and her peers are supporting her.”

Watch the video of the moment, provided by Brandy Navetta of Zeeland Community Schools.

Jules Hoogland is no stranger to doing good things on the basketball court, considering she’s been playing for four years, since starting in seventh grade.

But that’s not the only way she inspires those around her.

Hoogland also skis, rides a tandem bike and plays the piano while composing his own music with lyrics.

“She wants to break the stigma/stereotype that blind people can’t have fun or do much,” Karen Hoogland said.

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As evidenced by the packed crowd for the basketball game, Jules Hoogland certainly shatters that stereotype every day.

“Jules worked so hard over the years to get a feel for this shot,” said teacher and leader Nate VandeGutche. “It was so moving to see her hit that shot again in front of 2,500 people. We couldn’t have been more excited for her and her family. It capped off what was a momentous day for all of us.

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