Girl, 12, With Down Syndrome Plays on School Volleyball Team: 'They Wanted Her in There'
For one, shining night, CiCi Ramirez was just another member of the Raymond Mays Middle School's seventh-grade volleyball team.
The 12-year-old Texas girl with Down syndrome has been practicing with the girls’ team since school started. She loves volleyball, her mom says, and she loves working out with the players.
But she didn’t participate in their actual games. That is until Monday night, when she suited up and took the court in a jersey emblazoned with the number 30.
It was the team’s last home game of the season, and the girls wanted to CiCi to play with them.
The coach called CiCi’s mother, Analiza, to ask if it would be OK.
It was more than OK, her mom said. It was absolutely wonderful.
“It was exciting to see her,” Analiza told InsideEdition.com Wednesday. CiCi’s joy was a sight to behold. She jumped up and down, she shimmied, she laughed with delight, and she served the ball right over the net.
“They were rotating her in and out,” her mother said. “They didn’t keep score when she was in. She doesn’t know that. She just knows that she is participating like everyone else.”
After the team’s winning game, CiCi was presented with a trophy, which made her jump up and down some more.
“That signifies to her that she won,” her mom said, laughing. “She kept telling people, ‘I won! I won!’’’
Coach Shelley Martinez was proud of her special athlete. "It was wonderful to see her get on the court and play her heart out because she has practiced hard and loves her sport," she told KWTX-TV.
CiCi will also play next week, at the team’s last game of the season. Then she moves on to the basketball team, something that made her mother break down in tears.
"That’s what she played with her dad. He passed away a year ago. He played that with her all the time."
She has two grown brothers, who often come by to play with her and help out.
“I expect from her what I expect from my boys,” Analiza said. “I expect them to do what they have to do. We never babied her. We never treated her like she was any different from anyone else.”