Farragut player with Down syndrome starts, plays on senior night

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Campbell family has worked for years, to make sure Olivia has a normal life.

It was her own accomplishment, though, which made it clear that she's much greater than normal.

"When she was little, I'd say the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Everything is just intense," said Olivia's mother, Jackie Campbell.

Olivia Campbell, 19, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth.

"A lot of what is difficult about Down Syndrome is not the medical diagnosis. It's the social label," explained Olivia's sister, Natalie Campbell.

Olivia has been a member of the Farragut girls basketball team since her freshman year.

"From day one, talking with Olivia, her parents, and her sister, we all hoped for the same thing, and that is for her to be basically treated like everyone else."

Olivia has never played in a game for Farragut; but on senior day, all the seniors generally start.

Olivia was no different. She was in the starting lineup. She ran through the 'tunnel' created by her teammates and Farragut cheerleaders. She checked into the game. The crowd was cheering for her.

"It was amazing. My hands still hurt from clapping. I was screaming really loud," said Natalie Campbell, as she recalled seeing her sister step onto the court.

"I see her stand there with the other seniors. It's beyond what I imagined or expected," recalled Jackie Campbell.

Olivia did not score a point. Her coaches made sure the opponents didn't purposely let her score. They wanted her to be treated like every other player on the court.

"She is not a charity for the team. She is a valuable member. It wasn't like they had five, plus her. It was normal," said Natalie Campbell.

After the game, Olivia said it was okay that she didn't score, because her "team won."

In three varsity minutes, Olivia inspired a gymnasium full of people, and proved resoundingly, that she is truly not your 'normal' 19-year-old girl.

She's much greater than that.

If the highs are truly higher, Saturday will be hard to match.