High school basketball manager living with Down syndrome making an impact on team

Spencer Neill, now a senior, has been the team’s manager since his freshman year.
St. Stephens Coach Patrick Smith said Spencer Neill is the definition of never quitting.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 10:06 PM EST
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HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - If you’ve ever been to a St. Stephen’s basketball game, you’ve no doubt seen energy on the bench that’s impossible to miss.

Spencer Neill has served as the team’s manager since his freshman year, and immediately became a part of the St. Stephens basketball family.

“Spencer’s one of those kids that his personality makes it infectious,” St. Stephens Coach Patrick Smith said. “He always believes in us as much as we believe in him.”

Neill was born with Down syndrome, and from his birth his parents were constantly told what he would not be able to do in his life. Despite that, he has spent his whole life not quitting on anything.

“I think I was more nervous about having people that would accept him,” Spencer’s mother Donna Neill said. “But he’s just one of the guys. Spencer will come home and be like ‘that’s my family.’”

Now, as a part of the St. Stephens basketball team, Spencer and his family get to be a part of something every game, something they were told would be impossible.

“We never feel like we’re out of a game,” Smith said. “We talk about never quitting, and Spencer’s the definition of never quitting.”

On Tuesday, he got a chance to make his shot, suiting up for senior night and hitting the first basket of the night.

At halftime, he hit another halfcourt shot, as he’s done many times through his years at St. Stephens.

As his senior season comes to an end, Spencer is soaking up every moment he can with the team that made him part of the family.

Related: Catawba Co. senior living with Down syndrome makes 2nd half-court shot, nearly a year after his first