Wellington basketball manager with autism suits up, makes big shot


WELLINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – On Friday, Feb. 19, Wellington High School was the place to be.

“I didn’t want that day to end,” said senior Rayce Koerner.

Rayce got to be more than the Wellington’s boy’s basketball team manager on his Senior Night.

“I just loved how the guys and the coaches, everybody just gave me an opportunity just to try it out,” he said.

He was a player – suited up and shooting his shot.

“I was nervous and anxious. Like, is this gonna go in? Is it not?”

With less than a minute left against their game against Mulvane, Rayce launched a three from behind the key.

“When it hit, I was just like, wow, it was an awesome, awesome experience,” Rayce said.

The crowd and his teammates erupted into cheers.

“It’s just like magic. You know, it just filled everybody’s hearts and everybody for that point even the opposing team. We’re all unified, you know, and happy for him,” said Kendall Koerner, Rayce’s dad.

Even though Wellington lost to Mulvane, Rayce’s three-point thriller will live on in the hearts of many.

“It just refocuses you on what sports, and especially high school sports is about, memories and building relationships,” said Luke Smith, USD 353 Athletic Activities Director.

Even with high-functioning autism, Rayce is the definition of a true team player.

“He’s always willing to help you know lend a helping hand. Always looking out for other people and put himself second. So, for him to have that spotlight, his moment, and for just the outcome that he got… you couldn’t ask for a more perfect situation,” said Joe Newman, Wellington High School boy’s basketball coach.

Even in the limelight, Rayce was still thinking of others.

“I care about a lot of people. I just like make bring a smile people’s faces because that’s just the best thing in the world.”

Rayce hopes he can inspire others through his shot.

“For all the kids that have disabilities like myself, no matter what struggles or obstacles they may have in life, just keep pushing forward and follow your dreams.”

Rayce looks forward to continuing his love for sports in college as a team manager.

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