For Maddy Moore, the only thing better than sinking her first-and only-bucket of the season-was seeing the reaction from her teammates.
Moore, a senior on the Sacred Heart Sharks basketball team, hit her first shot of the season on Jan.4 in a non-league game against Lockport.
Moore hit nothing but net and when she did, those in the gym and her teammates exploded with cheers because they knew just how far she had to travel to get that basket.
“When I put the shot up I was just kinda thinking ok, I’m open so I might as well take the shot. Then I was just kinda hoping it would go in,” Moore said with a chuckle.
“And it did. I immediately looked at the bench, because I’m usually on the bench cheering my teammates on. That’s kinda like my position and I enjoy it a lot. So it was really excited to see everybody getting amped up like I usually do.”
Sharks coach Carrie Owens smiled when she recalled the moment. Saying it was one of those this is why we love sports moments.
“She hesitated for a little bit. She didn’t know whether she was gonna shoot or not,” Owens said.
“She decided to shoot it and nothing but net. And I’ll tell you what the biggest smile that you could ever imagine came up across her face. The team was jumping up and down screaming for her. When the game ended they ran out onto the court to embrace her, because they knew how special and important it was to her.”
Moore had last played on Dec.9, eleven days later she underwent heart surgery to correct a heart flutter that she had been dealing with her whole life. Shockingly enough Moore’s condition wasn’t formally diagnosed until she was in seventh grade. Until then she thought that the symptoms, like being easily tired or racing heart, were a normal part of life.
“I did basketball all through elementary school,” Moore said. “In fifth grade after my practice I noticed my heart was beating really fast, which was normal for me, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. I pointed it out to my teacher and he sent me to the nurse. She didn’t think anything of it. She said maybe you just pushed yourself too hard. In seventh grade, two years later, it happened when I was folding laundry. My dad was out in the garage and I went out to get him. He said this isn’t right. We went to the cardiologist and they filled us in.”
Moore found out that she had WPW (tachycardia). A condition that sends an extra electrical signal to her heart that makes her heart race/flutter, especially when she is active. Moore was told that as long as she monitored the situation she would be able to continue to play sports and lead a normal, active childhood.
“They said you can do sports,” Moore said. “You can do everything, you just need to keep an eye on your heart racing. They gave me techniques to calm it down.”
But as she got older Moore said symptoms increased to include dizziness, chest pains and she found herself getting more and more tired sooner, especially during drills. It got to the point where Moore and her family felt surgery was the best option to remedy the situation once and for all.
On Dec.20, Moore underwent Ablation surgery at Buffalo General that took just under three hours. Ablation is an arthroscopic procedure that burned the extra electrical signals off Moore’s heart to enable it to beat in a normal fashion.
“I read a lot about the surgery,” Moore said. “I really wasn’t that afraid because from what I had read everyone who gets it done at a younger age has a very high success rate and they’re back doing their normal things within a few weeks.”
Moore, who is in her second season of varsity, is by no means the Sharks top-gun. And that is what makes her story even more special. She rarely sees playing time. She’s a bench player who more than knows her role. She takes pride in it. Like getting a good laugh out of “The Benchateers” nickname that she shares with fellow role players, Cassie Kamens and Aoife Scannell.
“It was incredible,” Kamens said, as she described Moore’s basket.
“I saw the shot go in. Then I looked and our whole bench was standing and jumping. The three of us always cheer for them. So it was so nice to see everyone get so excited for her. Because it was such a big thing for her to be able to score after having heart surgery.”
Maddy Moore holds her head up high and does her job with pride because she believes that all contributions-no matter how seemingly small-are part of the overall recipe of success.
“I’m a firm believer in the fact that everybody has a role on the team,” Moore said. “There’s no role that’s more important than the other. So whatever role you end up falling into you’re there for a reason. So whatever it is you’re good at what you do. I enjoy cheering my teammates on. I like getting them amped up on the bench and spreading it down the bench.”
For all that she went through Moore has never once asked for a special treatment since coming back. If it’s a running drill and Owens says this is the time for everyone, but Maddy you can have this much extra time. Moore will say no, coach. I’ll do it in the same time, too. And then runs just as hard as her mates do.
Maddy More sets the example of what a good teammate should be and that everyone is important. Whether you play 20 minutes, 20 seconds or even if you don’t touch the floor-you still matter.
“I think she’s a huge inspiration. She shows just how to make the most out of every experience,” Scannell said.
“We sit the bench, but we enjoy every single game. When game day comes we say yes, Bench Day we’ll have a Great Day! We just look forward to what’s happening. Maddy is, I would kinda say our head bench cheerleader. She’s always the one telling us to clap. She looks down (the bench) at the two of us when we’re not clapping and goes come on guys. You can be louder. She’s always inspiring us.”
Owens said the way Moore embraces her role and persevered through such adversity simply can’t be duplicated. Its because of traits like that Owens believes will make Maddy Moore successful in life in whatever career path she chooses.
“Whatever she ends up doing, her job. her career,” Owens said. “She’s probably gonna be someone very high up the (ladder) or someone very important. It just shows her work ethic and dedication to everything she does. She puts her heart and soul into everything.”
Saying that she can thank her teammates and the whole Sacred Heart basketball family for their support and well wishes, Moore said the whole experience has blessed her with a perspective on life she might not otherwise have.
“It really opened my eyes,” Moore said. “There are some people that find themselves having an issue with their health. In a lot of circumstances, they can’t go back to what they (love) to do. I’m lucky enough that this heart surgery wasn’t completely debilitating. So I can get back out there and keep playing the game I love.”