Minot High freshman lives out hoop dream

MINOT, N.D. - As high school basketball fever takes over the area, undoubtedly one of the best moments so far has come from an athlete who only played for a few minutes.

That athlete is Minot High freshman Will Klein.

Will is the manager of the freshman squad, but last week he got the chance to put on a jersey and take to the court, and the whole gym was behind him.

Will Klein says he has a passion for two things: basketball and the Minot High Magi.

When asked about his favorite basketball stars, he didn't mention any NBA players.

Instead, he responded with the Minot Boys Varsity starting lineup.

"Alex Shimke, Lamoureaux, you got Paxton," Will said.

When he was born, doctors diagnosed Will with what's known as Williams Syndrome. Making some of life's more routine moments a challenge for Will.

"Right before his third birthday, he had open heart surgery to repair the aorta in his heart," said Dawn Klein, Will's mom.

"It's not really that fun. Math is hard, reading sometimes," Will said.

Will overcame it all to play basketball through middle school.

"He was very nice, and happy, and funny, and just wanted to be around us," said Jaydon Wernerne, Will's teammate.

"Will always went to the summer camps and we always met him there. He always liked to play basketball with us," said Nicholas Beeter, teammate.

Will missed the cut for the freshman teams at Minot High, but that didn't mean there wasn't room for him.

"After knowing Will, I knew I wanted to keep him around, keep him involved in basketball," said Brent Nelson, Minot boys freshman team head coach.

Will's teammates and coaches all said they're happy to have Will around.

"He likes to shoot around with us and then every once in a while we'll catch him on the sideline taking a nap," Wernerne said.

Will had never dressed for a game until a week ago when Nelson gave him the nod.

"I looked in the bag and saw there was an extra jersey, and I saw Will sitting in the stands. I just thought this would be a great time to get Will in," Nelson said.

Not only did Will get to suit up, but he also got to play. Then Will did what his coach, mom, and teammates say they never expected from him; he scored. Three times, in fact.

Will is a boy of few words, so when the ball went in the hoop, all he could say was, "finally."

"We had a student, Ridge, who stole the ball from St. Mary's and got it back to Will and he shot that and made it. Just the excitement on his face when he ran over to the crowd, pumping his fist. I'll never forget that," Nelson said.

Will's hoop dream came true thanks to coaches, teammates, family, and of course, his relentless spirit.

Will said there's no doubt he'll be helping manage the Magi next season, but on the Sophomore team instead of the freshman squad.