Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Sydney Bigger just wanted to be a part of her sister’s basketball team. She became much more than that after taking on a role as the team manager.
Diamondbacks coach Laurie Evans-Gygax called Bigger “the spirit of the season.”
“She was super-emotional when we lost and super-happy when we won,” Evans-Gygax said. “She would even give speeches.”
Bigger has Down syndrome, but according to Evans-Gygax, no one would ever know she had special needs from the outside. “She just walks around and has this great personality,” Evans-Gygax said. “She loves being part of what’s going on.”
Evans-Gygax submitted Bigger’s nomination for the award as a way to thank her for all she contributed to Desert Oasis. One example that stood out came in a tight game when both sides became heated late in the first half. Bigger started dancing on the bench at halftime and lightened the mood.
“She always brought [the team] back to reality. … You can’t help but remember it’s not always about basketball,” Evans-Gygax said.
Bigger said her favorite part about her role was cheering on the team and consoling them when they lost.
“I feel sad, too … but I tell them, ‘It’s OK we lost; maybe next time we’ll win,’” she said.
Bigger always kept the team grounded.
“It makes you realize we are all here to learn,” Evans-Gygax said. “When you have someone on your team who consistently puts a smile on your face, it reminds you why you do what you do.”
Olivia Bigger, Sydney’s sister, enjoyed getting to spend the season with her older sister.
“She was really energetic on the bench,” Olivia said. “Everyone loved her.”
Sydney plans to attend UNLV next year and study science. Olivia, a freshman, will miss having Sydney around the basketball team.
Kelley Bigger, the girls’ mother, was ecstatic when she found out Sydney was up for the award.
“I just thought it was really kind that her coach nominated her for that,” Kelley said. “I thought it was very sweet … just to know she thought so much of Sydney.”
• Emani Frink, Clark High football. Called “the glue of the team” for fulfilling multiple roles including team manager, equipment manager and water girl.
• Jean Rees, Spring Valley cross country and swimming. Headed a pair of service projects in Honor and Remember the Flag, which publicly recognizes fallen U.S. soldiers, and 4Ocean, which cleans trash from the sea.
• Shana Stott, Eldorado High athletics. Advised student-athletes at her alma mater, an at-risk school, for the 20th straight year doing everything from providing meals to helping them apply for colleges.