Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


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


Michael would need a coach to work with him as a one-on-one aide, a job that was happily taken by Sanborn Elementary School physical education teacher and freshman football coach Ben Gibson.

“Mike is such an awesome kid,” said Gibson, who Michael calls “Gibby.” “Him being here is something that is great for Michael and great for all of the kids on the team. They all work together as a team and learn from each other. Mike is a goofy, likable kid. Plus, he has been in school with these kids since elementary school.”

As a freshman, Briggs played on the Andover freshman team, coached by Michael Votto, seeing playing time at the end of games already decided by lopsided scores.

“Freshman year was a great year,” David Briggs said. “Michael had a great time. In a game against Phillips, I have never seen anyone get up so many shots in such a short time. But he showed his basketball knowledge because he was keeping track of the clock. He made sure to get a final shot off right before the buzzer.”

Once this winter arrived, Michael, now a sophomore, followed many of his classmates to a new challenge on the court, playing for the JV team.

“He is a sophomore and the natural move was for him to go to the JV team,” Hibino said.

“We are thankful he wants to be part of this program. He loves the game and has worked so hard to earn his spot on the team.”

On the court

Anyone wondering if Michael is simply along for the ride would be mistaken.

As a recent practice kicked off inside the Collins Field House, he joined his teammates in sprints and agility drills.

When the practice moved to low post work, Michael started every rep by passing the ball into play. When the team worked on rebounding, Michael fired up shots, and on a pick play, he played defense.

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