In many ways, Plainville senior Nolan Sinclair is your typical small-town, three-sport athlete.
He has participated in football, basketball, and track for four years. He comes to practice, works hard, and inspires his teammates to do the same. Sinclair also has Down syndrome.
Sinclair is practically a celebrity at Plainville, a Class 2A school 30 minutes north of Hays, but now more people are discovering his story after a video of Sinclair scoring a basket in a C-team game against Ellinwood on Tuesday spread across social media.
The video shows sportsmanship on display, as Ellinwood’s team rebounds Sinclair’s misses and give him the ball back for another try. When the ball finally goes in, Sinclair raises his arms in celebration.
“He’s such a great kid and he’s got such a great attitude that he really puts things in perspective,” Plainville coach Chris Drees said. “Sometimes we get so caught up in wins and losses and we lose perspective of what really matters. Nolan reminds you of that. He’s just happy to be there and to be playing.”
Drees said he called the Ellinwood athletic director, Derek Schoenthaler, before the game and asked if it would be alright if he played Sinclair. Drees said that Sinclair has played a handful of games every season and has scored many times before, including a 6-point game last season.
But Tuesday’s basket was different because it was recorded. Drees said Sinclair, who will play in Friday’s home game against Hill City, is always excited when he scores.
“He’s normally a much better shooter than that,” Drees said, laughing. “But he was loving it. It was Valentine’s Day on Tuesday and he was flirting with all of the Ellinwood girls before the game. He was having a lot of fun.”
Sinclair, who communicates almost exclusively through sign language, has been an important part of Plainville since he moved there in grade school.
Hayden Friend, the school’s senior football and basketball star, said Sinclair is a vital part of Plainville’s family.
“He’s a huge inspiration to all of us,” Friend said. “He works hard when he doesn’t have to be there. He could be at home doing whatever he wants, but he makes the choice to come out and work hard and play with us. That makes us want to work just as hard as he does.”
Drees is happy to see Sinclair receive the recognition Drees believes he deserves, but he is also dreading the end of this season — Sinclair’s final year at Plainville.
“I’m going to be lost here without him next year,” Drees said. “He’s been such a big part of our team and a big part of our family. He’s just a really great kid with a great attitude and a really big heart.”