Globetrotters Honor Olivet Football Team

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One play ran on a football field in October is going a long way for the Olivet Eagles 8th grade team.

There was football with the Detroit Lions, a place in a December issue of Sports Illustrated and a seemingly never-ending supply of fan mail.

"We didn't expect it to get this big," said Eagles player Justice Miller. "It started small with our local newspaper and we thought that was big. And then it kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

Friday night came the latest accolade for the team: the Harlem Globetrotters Junior Phenom award -- the first time the honor has been bestowed on an entire team.

"These guys are exactly what we stand for," said Globetrotter Flight Time. "We're all about giving back and making peoples' dreams come true. And these guys, they displayed that probably without even knowing."

At a game Oct. 5, running back Sheridan Hedrick slid to the ground at the one yard line, stopping short of a sure touchdown. The players then put 95-pound Keith Orr in the game and called a play they designed especially for him.

"Keith really just meant a lot to us," said Hedrick. "We just really wanted to get Keith a touchdown."

Orr has learning and behavioral disabilities. His mother signed him up for football to give him structure. She was just happy he got playing time, but never expected this.

The response has been monumental and it isn't over yet. The boys head to the state senate for recognition Tuesday.

"It's been awesome," said Nick Jungel, one of Orr's teammates, "but that's not why we did it. We did it because we really like Keith."

Coach Tim Jungel too has enjoyed seeing his players get rewarded, but views the events with a broader scope.

"I guess the biggest thing we take away from this is the story got out there and hopefully it makes a difference in some other child's life," he said. "I think it has reinforced that being a good kid really is the right thing to do. It's not about the most touchdowns or who's the most popular. Being a good person matters."

And the touchdown has meant the world to Orr, whose mother says she doesn't have to worry as she once did for Keith's high school friendships.

"It's been great and the team has really meant a lot to me," said Keith Orr. "It doesn't matter if you have disabilities or not. At least you still have friends."

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