Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

February 13, 2014

Michael Briggs, 16-year-old with Down's syndrome, inspires while playing the sports he loves for Andover High

Briggs inspires on, off court as member of JV hoops team

As the ball left Michael Briggs’ hands and sailed through the net, the entire packed house at Dunn Gym erupted into cheers.

It didn’t matter that the junior varsity game between Andover High and archrival Central Catholic on Jan. 10 was well out of reach.

The gym was already stuffed with a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000 fans prepared to watch the varsity game when Briggs took the court in the closing moments of the JV game.

Briggs, a 16-year-old born with Down syndrome, took a pass and knocked down a short jumper

The shot sent the capacity crowd into hysterics. The Andover student section loudly chanted “Michael! Michael!” and fans of both teams rose to their feet and applauded as if he had just won a state championship. More than a few spectators had tears falling down their cheeks.

“It was unbelievable,” said his mother, Kim Briggs, her eyes misting with emotion.

“You are already so proud of what he did. But then the crowd reaction and (the Andover High student section) The Jungle chanting his name, it is just something you never imagine. You knew he had done something special. There is no stopping Michael.”

About the only one not celebrating was Michael. The Andover High sophomore got back on defense like any real basketball player would do.

“I still have goose bumps,” said his father, David Briggs, who coaches Michael’s Special Olympics team.

“This is something we never expected. Michael has scored in games before, but never in front of a packed house like that. I was so happy for him. It was really incredible.”

His family members weren’t the only ones touched.

“I know I saw a few tears in the stands,” Andover JV coach Alan Hibino said. “I was so proud to be his coach and the kids were proud to be his teammates. For the entire Andover community to support him like that was really special.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • at awiszus photo

    DAVID WILLIS/Staff photo Tim Awiszus has proven dangerous with the bat in his hand. After scraping to make the varsity team last year, the senior has emerged as one of the Golden Warriors' most powerful hitters over the last two seasons.

    Awiszus a force with the bat to lead baseball team Posted 9 hours ago 1 Photo
  • at round photo 042414

    Courtesy photo Robert Perry of Andover High School won the men's 800 meter run at the Ottaviani Invitational Track Meet last Saturday at Haverhill High School. Perry won in 2:04 with James Busi of Timberlane High School in New Hampshire taking second in 2:05.7.

    Girls track claims first at Ottaviani Invitational Posted 9 hours ago 1 Photo
  • AT HARRISON

    Rick Harrison

    Fitting honor Posted 9 hours ago 1 Photo
  • SYNCHRO2

    COURTESY PHOTO ANA Synchro member Sachiko Hagiya flies through the air with Evan Costanzo as the base. They will perform with their team at their annual "Defying Gravity" show this weekend at the Andover/North Andover YMCA.

    ANA Synchro set to 'Defy Gravity' Posted 9 hours ago 3 Photos
  • 140408_AT_HAND_HOCKEY

    Courtesy photo The Valley Hockey League Bantam East AA League championship Andover Bantam 2 team includes, front row, from left, Matt Garesche, Will Hamilton, John Wacome, Jeff Zaeder, Will O'Neil, Grant Willis, A.J. Clark and Tommy Duncan; and, back row, from left, head coach Bill Hamilton, coach Chris Huntress, Aram Smith, Tommy Giacchetto, Michael Rosen, Nick Christopher, John Gemmell, Sam Huntress, Konstantinos Kantas and coach Dana Willis. Coach Steve Moreland and teammate John Moreland are missing from the photo.

    Championship season for Bantam 2 team Posted 9 hours ago 1 Photo
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • at ericson photo

    PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo Nicole Ericson prepares to take a cut for the Andover softball team. After missing her entire junior season with a knee injury, Ericson is back in her rightful place in the middle of the Golden Warrior lineup this season.

    After missing her junior year with a knee injury, Ericson is back and hitting for softball team Posted 7 days ago 2 Photos
  • at round photo

    CARL RUSSO/Staff file photo Terence Norton blasts home a spike last season. Norton and his Golden Warriors have been red hot of late, winning four straight.

    Baseball earns back-to-back walk-offs Posted 7 days ago 1 Photo
  • GYMNAST JACKIE

    COURTESY PHOTO Gymnast Jackie Giordano of Andover clutches her winning trophy on the medal stand at the USA Gymnastics state championships earlier this month.

    Community Scoreboard Posted 7 days ago 1 Photo
  • Thursday, April 10, 2014
  • Get Up and Go kicks into action Posted 14 days ago
  • at round photo

    File photo John Oteri, seen in action last year, scored goals in all three of Andover's lacrosse games last week.

    Roche, Stankiewicz boost softball to big win Posted 14 days ago 1 Photo

Pictures of the Week
Stocks