Tyler Haynes Shot Reminds us of the Value of True Teammates

Posted on 02/26/2018
Tyler Haynes Shot Reminds us of the Value of True Teammates

Some of us watch sports to escape the negativity in life. In part, because sports also offer the opportunity to embrace how great life is, and how wonderful and supportive our friends and family can be. Recently, just one basketball shot was the perfect example of how sports can remind us of this. Tyler Haynes made that shot, a culmination of his story of perseverance, and one team’s quest to give a student a well-deserved sense of belonging.

Haynes is a student with autism, but the only identifier the FHN Basketball team would use for him is “teammate.” Haynes comes to practice every day, helps serve as the team’s equipment manager, and participates in the Knights’ pregame warmups. His dedication to the team is inspiring to the others wearing the Knights uniform. Then, at the junior varsity basketball game on Feb. 16, 2018, Knights Coach Eric Eubank called down the bench for a substitution. The call was for Tyler Haynes to take the court. The result was … well, see the video for yourself.

If you don’t have goosebumps after watching that video clip, you might want to check your pulse. Oh, and the game was close – FHN won 43-39. Exuberance filled the arena, as you can tell, especially for one woman who got a big hug from Haynes – his Mom.

"Words can't express the appreciation and gratitude that we have for the Francis Howell North High School community,” said Tonya Haynes, Tyler’s mother. “Since his freshman year, the basketball team members and coaches have embraced Tyler and made him feel as if he is truly a part of the team! Tyler practices with the team each day after school, attends all of the games and warms up with the team prior to each game and at the end of halftime. It warms our hearts to watch the team members throw Tyler the ball during practice and the pregame warmups.”

Sports can be pressure-packed at times, but the Knights always find time to let Tyler know he’s as much a part of the team as they are. “Though the basketball team members and coaches are focused on practice and game preparation,” Tonya said, “they all work together to make sure Tyler is included in the entire process. If you watch closely, the coaches and team members are all ‘looking out’ for Tyler. The principal (Andy Downs), school administrators, and FHN athletic director (Mike Janes) have also been more than amazing and made Tyler's inclusion and sense of belonging a priority – as they do for all students."

Tyler has felt included by his team for quite some time now, but Tonya thinks this latest video clip “further demonstrates the ongoing support and inclusion of Tyler, and just how much of an impact that it has.”

Here are some links to other stories about Tyler, created by FHN’s outstanding student-led publications staff. The December issue of the North Star Magazine (page 39) highlighted Tyler. And back in 2016, a story and video clip were posted about Tyler getting into his first game.

Tonya couldn’t be happier with the way Tyler’s teammates and coaches include him and made sure to reiterate her family’s appreciation. “If you’ve not yet realized, Tyler LOVES attending school at FHN and loves being a member of the basketball team. He was so excited and proud to wear a uniform on Friday and be placed in the game. Scoring the shot was the icing on the cake! We are grateful to the parent who captured the moment on video in its entirety.” And so are we. That kind of exhilaration doesn’t come very often.

The leadership of the Knights and the dedication of Tyler remind us that we are all part of one team, and we need to work together for success … all of us.


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