Championship Parkway Basketball Team and Fans
Embrace Two of Their Own with Love and Respect
By Sheila Baltzell-Linn 3-20-2020
Photos shared by photographers Pat Agler (PantherzDen), Jill Luginbill, and James Leighner (Lucky6Pix) - Thank you!

 

Inclusion in the regular academic classroom, for students with a myriad of disabilities, has been around since the 1990’s. In short, inclusion in the classroom means that students with disabilities have opportunities to learn in the same environment and alongside non-disabled students.
The heart-warming story at Parkway Schools is all about inclusion rising to a new level – on the basketball court
.

Two Boys on the Team

According to Varsity Basketball Coach Doug Hughes, the teammates have embraced two classmates with disabilities onto the team, serving as inspiration, lending a hand at managing the team, and bringing friendship. “The players treat those two like gold,” said Hughes, special education teacher at Parkway Schools.

The Parkway Intervention students are: 1. Brayton Luginbill, Down Syndrome, a limited verbal classmate (three words) who carries a communication device (donated by Fox Family Ride for Autism), is the 17 year old son of Scott and Jill Luginbill; and 2. Bradyn (Brady) McKee, Delayed Mylination,  high-functioning, is the17 year old son of Todd and Terri McKee.  Both students came to be part of Parkway Basketball as early as 8th graders to help with things like sports equipment and water bottles and learn in a work study environment just this year.  The Intervention Class of Doug Hughes includes all academic classes and the work study program.

 

 

Brayton Luginbill

According to the Luginbills of rural Willshire, they are so proud to be lifelong Panthers, and the parents of young Brayton, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at one week old. Later he was diagnosed with Autism after attending Parkway Kindergarten. Jill explains, though, that these labels do not define Brayton’s abilities.  He’s always been in multiple disabilities classrooms until moving to the Intervention class this year for the work study program. He attended preschool at Cheryl Ann Schools. Jill and Scott credit everyone at Cheryl Ann and Parkway for Brayton’s success. Jill said,  “There isn’t just one person; it’s a team effort.  It does take a village. The students not only accept Brayton, they include him.  His basketball family allows independent growth and experiences. The teachers, administration, and our community encourage and support non traditional IEP paths with local opportunities.”  The Luginbill’s commented, “These young men have grown up with Brayton both on and off the court. You know he is considered a member of the team, for when he missed practices in Jr. High when he was hospitalized with pneumonia during the season, Brayton received a get-well poster board card signed by all the team players along with balloons.  Also, when the current Seniors were 8th graders (Brayton was in 7th grade), he was presented with a basketball signed by all Jr. High players.  The 8th grade brought home the championship that year, that ball is still cherished by Brayton.  This year Brayton leads the team on to the court at the beginning of each game and participates in pumping up his player as the starting line ups are announced.  We are blessed that these young men are proud to have him (“Dr. Luginbill”) as a member of the team even to the extent that Brayton now has received 2 tourney net pieces from sectional and district championships.  There is so much more than just the win on the scoreboard!”

Brayton with the Panther Mascot.

 

 

 

Bradyn (Brady) McKee

Todd and Terri McKee of Rockford,  said they learned of Brady’s diagnosis at 10 months old after an MRI at Columbus Children’s Hospital revealed Delayed Mylination  (lack of oxygen at or before birth). “Brady then went to Cheryl Ann programs and Early Intervention until he was 3 years old where Brayton was also enrolled. It was there we met the Luginbills. Brady was, at age 3, transitioned to home therapy with Mercer County Services until he started Pre-School at Parkway,” said Terri. Brady had some therapy at the time and then transitioned to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). The McKee’s mention,  “We are grateful to Parkway Schools and, in particular, staff members Brandy Cairns, Matt Fisher and Doug Hughes for their dedicated work with Brady.” 

The McKee’s
shared, “I don’t know if Coach Hughes has told you, but Brady is all about sports. He was constantly in Doug’s office when he was the AD - talking sports. Doug even at one point had to come up with rules that if Brady didn't have his work done and turned-in then he couldn't talk sports with Coach Hughes. Brady here at home has a PlayStation 4 & is constantly on it. He literally makes the teams (all the local MAC teams) & their fields or courts & then plays the game. He has numerous PowerPoint slides that he’s created with high school, collegiate, & pro teams rosters. I received a MAC football schedule from a co-worker years ago that showed the schedule by the helmets only. Brady loved that schedule so much that he figured out a way to make his own & has done it the last 3 years.”

When the players heard this story from Mrs. McKee, they all started talking about the fun they have playing PlayStation online with Brady. “He’s good at online games and makes his own teams which is a hard thing to set-up,” marveled Caden Slusher.
Photo above is Brady with two fans.

 

 

Becoming Part of the Basketball Team

Brayton Luginbill LOVES basketball, according to his mom. As early as elementary school, he participated in Parkway summer camp sessions with Coach Hughes and on the Challengers’ Team for the County. Player Dylan Hughes volunteered as a Challenger buddy for Brayton for basketball. Two other buddies were Roman Leszinske and Grant Bollenbacher, according to Jill Luginbill. His parents were instrumental in getting that started for the younger disabled children. Basketball continued through junior high and high school where he began traveling with the Freshman Team two years ago and has moved up to JV and Varsity team participation.

“Brayton has been a manager, but this year was promoted to Hydration Specialist or what most people call the Water Boy,” said Jill.  Coach Hughes explained that when Brayton came into his classroom at the start of the 2019 school year, it was to enroll him in a work study program, and part of that is the Basketball duties. “It is his job, at school, to clean the bottles and keep them filled with water, but he also does school recycling and even laundry. On the court, he carries the crate and hands the water bottles to the players. This part is not the work study program, but I am not sure he realizes that. He’s part of the team when he is on the court,” said Coach Hughes. Brayton also is in Work Study program and on Tuesday afternoons he works with Tom Burtch at the Rockford Carry-Out. His duties there include: stocking shelves; breaking down boxes; cleaning tables; washing windows and cleaning trays. “This year Brayton leads warm-ups on the court. He then runs out and does the high five with Nick Hawk right as the game starts,” said Jason Luth. “Brayton shows his excitement in many ways. He gets so anxious before the game. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the referees, watching and waiting for the flag to come down and the National Anthem to finish. He knows the routine and is very dedicated to the routine in all areas of the game.” said Coach Hughes. “And, he constantly plays with his hoodie strings,” laughed Nick Hawk as the other players nodded in agreement. “ He pulls them back and forth and rolls them up and down in an exact rhythm.” 

 
Brayton and his hoodie strings. Photo compliments of James Leighner.

“Overall his behavior on the bench is great even though he is grunting, clapping and bouncing around. At practices, he acts out his need for attention, sometimes, by laying in the middle of the court with his head on a basketball and hand on his head,” said Corey Walls, smiling. “He likes to practice with us, too, and makes lots of shots. He’s good!,” said Jason Luth. “ He even tries to run the scoreboard in practice,” chuckled the players, “and SOMETIMES, the water caps are on wrong, and he laughs when he says ‘Whoops” which can be his playful verbalization that he just drenched an unsuspecting teammate on purpose.”  Brayton has 3 words: Whoops, Uh-Oh and What, and the players have come to know his verbal and non-verbal communications. “He’ll even drop his crate and throw water bottles, splashing the boys in a playful way.” said Coach Hughes.  “And, he is really empathetic, for instance when Corey (Walls) sprained his ankle, Brayton, got the attention of the trainer to help and then rubbed Corey’s shoulders. He will often pat the players on the back in a show of encouragement.”

 

Brady McKee, also a work study student of Doug Hughes, performs a totally different role on the team. Brady LOVES all kinds of sports and keeps the minutes chart for the Panthers’ games and statistics that the coaches use. Even the other teams’ coaches! He’s good with Microsoft Excel and Word, so he develops the sports program for each game, which includes the opposing team rosters, which he gets off the Internet. He quietly sits on the bench collecting data and doesn’t lose his cool during the game. “This year Brady is a “student assistant” and he wears a suit like the other coaches do on game days and gets to sit on the bench with them,” said Terri, his mom.


Brady with his share of the trophy loot after the win at sectionals or districts.

“Come Monday morning 1st period, he’ll have the numbers crunched and the spreadsheet printed for each coach and player,” said Coach Hughes, and according to his teammates, he is ready to discuss the numbers! And, not only MAC, but all college teams as well.

“He likes to argue with us and always wants our opinion,” said Nick Hawk. “ He critiques our playing but always in a light-hearted way!”

His mom Terri agrees, “Brady gives us all the rundown on the opponents they are going to face then we get the play by play on the game when he gets home.” Corey Walls marvels at the way he knows the mascots of all the college teams. Brady was moved to the bench this year because of his unique role with the coaching staff, according to Coach Hughes.

“He doesn’t like to play the game, though; he’s all about the analysis,” explained Jason Luth. Brady gets upset about the postponement of the tournaments.

 

Panther sports fan, Barb Baker, who suggested this story, talked about a touching moment for the Panther Fans at the district final game. It is the same story that touched Terri McKee’s heart. Barb explained, “The Panther Fans were watching the team players cut pieces of the net down after their exciting win. Brady went up to cut his own piece of the net down, and he was really struggling with the scissors. A couple of the players, Corey Walls and Nick Hawk  immediately came to his rescue. They helped him cut through it. As they tried to hand the piece to Brady, he gave it back; but the boys were insistent – ‘Brady, this is YOUR piece.’ The Wapak gymnasium erupted in cheering!”  

 

Terri said, “The boys have always been so patient & caring to both Brady & Brayton. This action really showed me what an amazing group of young men that their parents have raised.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Corey Walls shown helping Brady cut the piece of net.

 

 


Parkway Panthers were Regional Bound after having won 41-31 in the District Finals vs Marion Local. In the Regional Semi-finals Parkway beat Tiffin Calvert 44-42 to advance to the Regional Finals. Tournament action was postponed by the Coronavirus Outbreak.

 

Coach and Teacher Doug Hughes

Hughes has been at Parkway for 14 years, but has been in education for 27 years as a licensed Intervention Specialist for K-12 grade and an Elementary 1-8 grade certified teacher. He’s been a head basketball coach for 19 years (10 at Parkway) and was Parkway Athletic Director for 11 years. Although he’s interacted with Brayton and Brady over the course of the boys’ school careers, they both came to Mr. Hughes classroom this year in the Work Study Program.

The boys are in Inclusion classrooms, but Hughes teaches Brayton most of his classes, and Brady only comes to him during study hall, spending most of his time in regular academic classes, or doing Work Study with AD Matt Triplett.


Interviewed for this feature were Left to right: Dylan Hughes; Caleb Kinney;  Gavin Stober; Caden Slusher;
Corey Walls; Jason Luth; Coach Doug Hughes; Nick Hawk and Ryan Hesse.

Said Coach Hughes, “I’m so proud of these young men." They are: Jason Luth, Senior; Caleb Kinney, Senior; Dylan Hughes, Junior; Nick Hawk, Senior; Corey Walls, Senior; Ryan Hesse, Senior; Caden Slusher, Sophomore; Gavin Stober, Senior; Kendall Roof, Senior; and Zach Hawk.

"What has been good for Brady and Brayton has been best for these teammates. They think outside of themselves and have consideration of others especially Brayton. For instance, part of the routine is that the boys eat lunch every day with Brayton and Brady, but Brayton cannot order his own food. These young men figured out a system of selection (using the left  or right fist designated as a specific food choice) for Brayton. Early in the season, after the Milton Union away scrimmage, they stopped at a Burger King  for a meal. The boys had to figure out how to order for Brayton. They had been working on the fist selection at school, and had him choose between left-fist Whopper and right-fist Chicken Nuggets. Brayton selected, but Caleb noticed he kept choosing the same hand and mentioned it. The boys were trying to figure out if Brayton was really paying attention to the choices. Caleb tried left-fist broccoli and right-fist potato chips. And, Brayton chose the other fist which was potato chips. The boys tried it again, and once again Brayton was paying attention and avoided broccoli.”  The team, at this interview, erupted in laughter remembering the Burger King dilemma.

Of the Panther Basketball Team success this year, (19-7 after they won the regional semi-final and were headed to the final), Coach Hughes said, “Every person on this team had a role and hand in the success. These young men think of others and not themselves. They have learned to sacrifice for the team – the greater good. They are the true definition of a team ~ everyone sacrificing so that the team can achieve greatness. I started seeing that come out in them after about the third loss of the season. We lost a really tough game at Ft. Recovery – a game in which we led the whole way until they hit a deep three with only seconds remaining. That was tough to take. In the locker room, after that loss, we talked about how we must keep working and how important it was for us as a group to stay together. We told the players they had to keep on grinding and understand that the strength of this team was our unity and unselfishness. At that point, the losses brought them together as a team. They were perfectly fine sacrificing for the betterment of the group. They learned it makes you tougher when you stick together. At every turn, I see these boys rooting for and excited for each others’ successes. They never point fingers. It is so special to see individual success with no jealousy – no tear down. They play well together on and off the court, and certainly they set the finest example in the love and friendship they share with teammates Brayton and Brady and their successes.”

Before the Coronavirus struck, the Panthers were to play Columbus Grove in the Regional finals on Friday, March 13, 2020, with all of the Parkway district families and fans who so looked forward to the game and wished the best of luck to the team and their two very important helpers.

Coach Hughes finished, “We have talked a lot about things we can’t control on the court, like the virus bringing our tournament run to an abrupt stop. We choose to continue to move forward because we have learned that when we are in it for each others’ success it leads to Parkway’s success.”

 

 


Dylan Hughes cuts a piece of the net for Brayton at the Coldwater game.

 

 


Fans celebrate Brayton getting a piece of the tournament net at Wapak. Photo shared by Pat Agler.

 

 


Nick Hawk, number 32, playfully celebrates with Brady McKee, after the win.


Flashback Moment: Eighth grader Nick Hawk presents seventh grader Brayton with the basketball signed
by all Jr. High team players when they won the Basketball Championship that year.
 
 
 
 
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