Katelyn Carlow of Dirigo High School in Dixfield and Evan Morrell of Gorham High School have been honored with the 2018 Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Award announced recently at the Maine McDonald’s High School Senior All-Star Basketball awards banquet in Bangor.
Since 2009, the annual Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Award has honored two high school basketball team members who embody the spirit of the sport of basketball, exemplify sportsmanship, support and inspire their teammates and coaching staff, and have shown the ability to overcome obstacles and boundaries.
The awards are named in honor of the first recipients: the late Joshua Titus, who was a team manager at Edward Little High School of Auburn and had autism; and Patrick Thibodeau who was a team manager at Greely High School in Cumberland Center and has Down syndrome. The award winners receive a trophy and a $500 Spirit Scholarship to assist with their higher education needs.
Carlow, a senior on the Dirigo girls basketball team, received the Joshua Titus Spirit of the Game Award for inspiring her coach and teammates by overcoming several knee injuries.
During the past six years she has undergone eight separate knee surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy. She has been restricted to crutches for months at a time, even a wheelchair.
Her prognosis today is for double knee replacement surgery by the age of 25 and to have her physical activity limited for life to swimming, biking and walking.
Her experience, in the words of Dirigo coach Rebecca Fletcher, “is beyond my comprehension as a human being, but more even more so as an athlete.”
Through all of this Carlow continued to fight her way back time and time again. She told her coach earlier this season, “I’ve never been a quitter, and I’m not going to start now.”
Said Fletcher, “Her resilience, determination, mental toughness and heart are inspirational to anyone who knows her story. When my players aren’t competing with pride and passion, I refer them to Katelyn’s struggle to have even the opportunity to play.”
Morrell received the 2018 Patrick Thibodeau Spirit of the Game Award.
“He brings so much to our program that we didn’t even realize we were missing until he showed up,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume.
Morrell, who has developmental delays and Tourette’s Syndrome, attends every practice and game and helps in every aspect of the program. In practice, he is in charge of running the clock for drills and getting water during breaks. He also works on his own shooting and dribbling to prepare for his school’s unified basketball games. During varsity games he keeps a rebounding chart for his coach.
Morrell’s teammates and coach say it’s not the tasks Morrell does that make him special. It’s the way he makes the team feel. He enthusiastically cheers for the players and shouts words of encouragement during games and practices. He took some losses very hard this season, but he came to practice the next day ready to do his part and help the team get better.
Said a teammate, “He brings positive energy and an infectious smile to every practice and game. His upbeat attitude and care for us makes the long practices and tough losses a little easier. Since having Evan on the team, I can confidently say that we not only have our biggest supporter, but also a great friend and person that each of us will never forget.”