CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -Ellie McCadams is a sophomore at Jackson High School, but when she isn’t in school she is apart of the SEMO women’s basketball team.
“A lot people think I can’t do what a lot of other people can. Whether I can shoot a ball or not I’m a part of the team,” Ellie McCadams said.
Ellie’s story started much earlier than expected when she spent her first seven weeks in the NICU.
“Everyday it was something worse," said Ellie’s mom, Nickie McCadams. "The hearing loss the meningitis. There were days they said she wouldn’t make it. Then they diagnosed her with Cerebral Palsy”
Ellie always smiled. It defined her because she refused to let others or a diagnose do that for her.
“People looked at me differently,” she said. “No, you can’t do that. I want to show them that i can do what everyone else, can it might be different but I can still do it.”
Ellie’s life changed when she met Olivia Hackman, a SEMO guard.
They met at physical therapy where she invited her practice.
“They came to a practice, she was nervous.” SEMO Head Coach Rekha Paterson said.
“Coach P. said I think the team needs a new team member," Ellie said. “I joined the circle at the end of practice. And she said I’m a team member.”
Since that day, Ellie has been with the Redhawks watching, cheering, and of course smiling.
“All of them look at me like I’m a teammate. They treat me like I’m just person,” Ellie said.
“She is one of the sisters," said the coach. "She’s got a locker, she’s got a place on the bench. When we win she’s happy.”
This bond between coach and player is so much bigger than basketball.
“She is always there for me whether I’m upset or happy. She helps me realize that its just a game. A smile can make everything better," Patterson said.
“I don’t feel like I ever stop thinking about them," Ellie said. "They are my second family. They changed my whole world.”