Little Miami basketball player gets her 'One Shining Moment'

Stephanie Goodwin, a senior guard for Little Miami High School, made a basket in the team's season-opening win over Bethel-Tate. Goodwin was born with cerebral palsy. (Kerrie Fairburn).

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - While Ohio high school boys' basketball just got started on Dec. 1, the girls have been playing games for a little over a week, and one Little Miami High School player already enjoyed her 'One Shining Moment.'

Stephanie Goodwin, a senior guard who had served as team manager her freshman through junior years, scored a basket with just a second left in the team's 67-47 season-opening win over Bethel-Tate on Nov. 26, although both programs came out big winners when Goodwin's shot went through the basket.

Goodwin was born with cerebral palsy, but fell in love with the game of basketball due to a friendship formed a few years ago with a former Little Miami player. She had wanted nothing more during her first three years with the program than to suit up for a game.

Head coach Matt Tolliver surprised Goodwin at last year's team banquet by telling her she would be varsity player in the 2016-17 season, and then took it one step further in the first game.

With Little Miami comfortably ahead late in the game, Tolliver said he spoke with the three game officials and Bethel-Tate head coach Dave Fallis about Goodwin getting into the game and getting a chance to score a basket.

It took a handful of attempts, but when Goodwin's shot finally went through, players from both teams raced to embrace her and congratulate her.

"No one was leaving that court until she made the shot," Tolliver said in an e-mail. "You can see the anguish as a few of the shots missed and then the pure excitement when she made the final shot. It was a special moment for her and for everyone involved. By far the most special moment I've been a part of. I can't thank the officials and Coach Fallis and his girls enough for how it all went down."

Stephanie's father, Steve, said neither he nor his daughter knew she was going to get that kind of chance that night.

"It was like a spur of the moment thing," said Steve Goodwin. "I saw a couple of minutes before he put Stephanie in to play and that was exciting enough, but I didn't expect anything like that. It was very exhilarating to watch."

It was also pretty special to accomplish as well.

"I love basketball," said Stephanie. "I had been practicing hard. It felt great."

Stephanie and her twin sister Samantha were born 12-15 weeks premature, and it led to Stephanie having cerebral palsy, which is the result of a brain injury or a brain malformation that can, in some instances, be caused by complications at birth, but can also occur prior to birth and sometimes after birth. Cerebral palsy is considered to be a non-life-threatening condition. but it is incurable, although treatment and therapy help manage effects on the body.

"She can only do so much," said Steve Goodwin. "She's not really happy that she can't compete with 'normal' people. She wants to run up and down and doesn’t want to just stand there and make baskets, but it's given her a purpose and a desire. She has goals, all kinds of goals, including going to any college with basketball."

Samantha suffers from blindness in one eye and some other disabilities, according to Steve Goodwin, who has raised them both along with two sons - Tommy and Chris - as a single parent after his wife Tammy died of a heart attack in 2012 at the age of 46.

It was Stephanie's friendship with former Little Miami star Amy Bullimore that led to her being a part of girls' basketball program. Bullimore is now a junior at Ohio Northern University where she is a starting forward on the undefeated basketball team and averages 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

"Amy has a handicapped child in her family and I think that’s what made the connection with her and Stephanie and why Amy took her under he wing," said Steve Goodwin. "Stephanie thinks the world of Amy. She wears Ohio Northern garb all the time and watches Amy's games on the internet all the time. Amy is like a big sister for her and it was great that she was at the game Stephanie made the basket."

Said Stephanie of her relationship with Bullimore: "She loves me and took care of me. She is my friend."

All Stephanie wants, according to her father is, "to be treated like any other 'normal' kid, no more no less, and not seen as someone with 'special needs.' "

That said, what she accomplished on the court on Nov. 26 was something special indeed.

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