GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – How do you measure the success of an athlete? It is the number of points they score, the number of wins, or is it something greater? In the Gladstone Basketball program, Logan Fudala brings an energy to the game that even has other teams cheering.
Since a young age, Logan Fudala has never shied away from adversity. Bring born with Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a rare brain malfunction, and severe autism, doctors said they were certain there were things he couldn’t do.
“So with the medical side with things with his head and the development there, we have to be really careful of concussions and those type of things so, as he says his neurosurgeon, there’s [a] ‘no’ list of things he can’t do and some of that is obviously like football and you know, those real contact sports.”
But Logan did not let that stop him. Fast forward to last year, he found himself focused on all of the things he could say ‘yes’ to.
“I know he played in like 8th grade, he was like a manager and I don’t think he got in any games,” Josh Martin, head coach, Gladstone Freshman Basketball said. “He told me ‘I didn’t want to play. I just wasn’t ready’ so I told him, ‘You can play if you want. If you don’t just tell me. I want you here and I want you a part of the team.'”
“The coach and I had talked before and just said that you know, we’ll do whatever he’s comfortable with and the fact that he was in the gym and with the team I thought that was wonderful,” Berry said.
From the opening tip, Logan fit right in.
“Logan, I like having him on the team,” Casey Alworden, Gladstone Freshman Boys Basketball player said. “We’ve been having a lot of downs this season and he’s always just there for the team morale and to lift our attitudes”
“Logan is just a great teammate,” Austin Pepin, Gladstone Freshman Boys Basketball player said. “He brings a lot of laughs to practice and stuff and he just loves to be here.”
Even in the tense moments of the game, Logan puts things in perspective.
“No matter how mad I am or how up I am, he just makes me smile and laugh,” Coach Martin said. “I know there are a couple of times at the half when we are down and I am like, ‘Guys we need to do this, this, and this.’ And he just comes in and says, ‘Hey, Coach!’ And he just has this thing of bringing us all back to what is really important.”
On January 3rd, what seemed like a normal away game, turned into a night both the Gladstone and Kingsford basketball teams will never forget.
“So it was around one to two minutes left and we put Logan in because he wanted to play that game,” Pepin said. “It was his first-ever game where he was actually in action. So, he got the ball and he was under there and you put it up a few times and it went in.”
“He’s been practicing hard and to make the shot so I didn’t know if he would even do it or if he would freeze up or you know leave,” Berry said. “But I saw from the big smile on his face and I was crying of course and trying to video. Just everything that is medically wrong and with the autism. Working through that and just the fact that like you can enter a gym with all those things and sensory things to overcome and the fact that he was out there this time, so it was great.”
“It is just a cool moment,” Coach Martin said. “Everybody is excited, every kid in the stands, every parent. When Logan scored the first time you could see tears in parent’s eyes.”
“Let’s just say after my shot I walked off to the bathroom,” Logan Fudala, Gladstone Freshman Boys Basketball player said.
“We didn’t get the win and we played kind of not very good, but him making a basket just made up for it,” Alworden said. “That made the night and I’m glad that happened.”
“It is an honor to be a part of that,” Coach Martin said. “As a coach, it is something I have never experienced before even in my 8 years of coaching. Just to see all of the kids, the fans, even the other teams so excited to see him score, it was a magical moment.”
“I was pretty proud,” Fudala said. “I just like supporting my team.”
“His confidence has soared from that first game but even just from tryouts, he came home and was like, ‘I’m trying out.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And he went in did it all on his own,” Berry said.
“I like to play basketball because I want to be like Michael Jordan,” Fudala said.
This feat is even something Michael Jordan would likely be impressed by.
“I am ecstatic,” Berry said. “You know you wish for your kids all the things and then all the things they have to overcome whether they have you know disabilities or not and to see him out there not only doing it but having fun in the smile and enjoying himself. That is huge. That is so huge for us.”