If crowd behavior could ever be compared to a car going from zero to 100 miles per hour in about a second, this was it.
The people who packed the gymnasium at Zeeland East High School at first sat in stunned silence, as junior Jules Hoogland lined up her shot for East’s Unified basketball team as a helper banged a stick on the support beam behind the backboard.
The crowd was made up of students, parents, teachers and officials from both Zeeland East and Zeeland West high schools, who gathered for an assembly to watch the Unified teams from each school play each other.
Hoogland, who is blind, then hoisted her shot off the backboard and into the net.
Cue the eruption from the crowd, which made enough noise and got people on their feet, as if the shot won a state championship.
“She was so happy she made that shot,” said Karen Hoogland, Jules’ mother. “It’s great to know her school and peers support her.”
Watch the a video of the moment, provided by Brandy Navetta of Zeeland Community Schools.
Jules Hoogland is no stranger to doing good things on the basketball court, given she’s been playing for four years, ever since starting in seventh grade.
But that’s not the only way she inspires those around her.
Hoogland also skis, tandem bikes, and plays the piano while composing her own music with lyrics.
“She wants to break the stigma/stereotype that blind people can’t have fun or do much,” Karen Hoogland said.
As the packed crowd for the basketball game can attest, Jules Hoogland is certainly breaking that stereotype every day.
“Jules has worked so hard over the years at getting a feel for that shot,” teacher and leader Nate VandeGutche said. “It was so moving to see her hit that shot again in front of 2,500 people. We couldn’t have been more excited for her and her family. It capped off what was a very memorable day for all of us.”