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High school basketball: Andrew Edwards finds a home with Westmoore basketball team

COMMENTARY — Andrew Edwards is the first Special Olympian ever nominated for The Oklahoman's scholar-athlete awards. Meet a Westmoore student whose coach says he “represents everything that is good with sports.”
by Jenni Carlson Published: June 13, 2013

He knows, for example, how to figure out whether an egg is rotten.

“You get a big thing of water, and then you drop an egg in there,” Andrew explained. “If it floats all the way to the top, that means it's bad. If it stays down, it's good.”

His cumulative grade point average is 3.7.

That's one of the reasons that Scott Hodges wanted to nominate him for the scholar-athlete award. The boys basketball coach got to know Andrew when he became a team manager this past year.

“I was responsible for supplying the team's water,” Andrew said proudly.

Even though Andrew became a basketball manager just this past year, he has been around basketball for more than a decade. He started playing when he was 7 years old. He has played for the Special Olympics team at Westmoore since starting high school.

This past season during the Special Olympics tournament in Norman, Hodges and the boys on the basketball team showed up to cheer Andrew like he cheers them.

Andrew had no idea they were coming.

“I was surprised,” he said.

Hodges and his players had a great time at the game. At 6-foot-2 and broad, Andrew is the LeBron James of Special Olympics basketball in the area. He dominated parts of the game, but other times, he did everything possible to involve his teammates.

Andrew has always had that kind of loving, inclusive personality.

“Like sunshine,” his mom said.

Hodges said, “At a school this big, everybody doesn't always know everybody. Everybody knows Andrew.”

Andrew plans to be back with the basketball team next year. While he's already assured a spot as a manager, he thinks it might be cool to play, too. Many eligibility hurdles would have to be crossed with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association before that could happen, but occasionally, the sports world learns of a touching story of a disabled player getting on the floor because a couple coaches have a heart to make it happen.

But even if Andrew never plays a second for the Westmoore varsity, he doesn't regret being part of the team.

“It's sort of helped me to see how much hard work it takes to succeed at a certain thing and that hard work leads to success,” he said. “It sort of opened my eyes to that.”

Funny, but that's exactly what other people say about Andrew Edwards.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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