The basketball season tipped off for the R.I. Baker Middle School Bears on Thursday, and one of the coaches has been looking forward to it for months.
Ty Slobodan graduated from the school last year, but due to an unknown medical condition he hasn’t been able to step back on the court.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I think I’ve got a good team supporting me and hopefully they can figure out what’s going on.”
The Grade 9 student has had to put his hoop dreams on pause due to a bone condition that doctors say is stunting his growth.
Despite numerous tests and four surgeries, including one on his brain, medical experts are still trying to figure out what’s causing Ty’s symptoms.
His mother Chelsea said it started two years ago when he was collapsing on the court.
“When sports were taken away from him, it was hard to watch him, but days after he found out he couldn’t play, he asked to start coaching,” she said. “So he coached last year through all four surgeries.”
WATCH: Community rallies after Lethbridge College athlete loses foot (July 2018)
She said Ty has to do about 30 minutes of land physiotherapy per day, as well as physio in the pool three times per week.
After all of the medical procedures and multiple trips to see experts in Ottawa, his mother noted his strong spirit.
“My proudest moment of him is when he can’t walk, but he’s being pushed into a court so he can coach those kids and be a mentor and be with the coaches,” Chelsea said.
Last year, the school created the Heart of the Bear award, recognizing someone who has gone the extra mile for the school’s athletic program.
To no one’s surprise, Ty was the first recipient.
His family is heading back to Ottawa in January for another possible surgery on his right knee.
With all of the demands, Ty is just glad to be part of the team.
“I think it helps me as a person to become stronger and I just enjoy basketball, really,” Ty said. “It’s a fun experience coaching, I miss [playing basketball] a lot, but coaching helps it.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been started for the family to help ease the financial burden for the travel between Ottawa and Coaldale.