Coach's Son Inspires Midland

By WEEK Sports

July 15, 2010 Updated Jan 2, 2009 at 11:37 PM CDT

The Midland basketball team is off to its best start since 2001–2002.
The Timberwolves won the Williamsville Holiday tournament as the 7th seed while playing with extra motivation.

Midland coach Joe Mintus had plenty to celebrate...his team had just beat Peoria Heights by 30 on a snowy night in December. But then the celebration turned to chaos.

"I told my wife to wait here in the gym, I had to go call the scores in and she came running in holding my son saying something's wrong with him. He's hurt. He got stuck in the bleachers," said Mintus.

Mintus's 3 year–old son Sam had been sitting in the bleachers when the custodian closed them...trapping the boy's leg.

"He was straddling the bleacher and got caught with it and it pretty much just crushed his leg and cracked the femur right in half," Mintus said.

Sam was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Spring Valley and then transferred by life flight to Children's Hospital in Peoria.

"They life–flighted him. As soon as we found out he was going to Peoria we got in the car. It took us an hour and a half to get from Spring Valley to OSF. Probably the scariest drive of my life knowing your son is in a helicopter with strangers. Not knowing what's going on. It was definitely a scary, scary time," Mintus said.

Three days later Midland played Streator–Woodland.
It was Joe's first time back with his team since the accident.
His players dedicated the game to Sam and beat the Warriors by 30 points.

"We were pretty fired up," said Midland senior center Nick Perino. " We saw coach a little upset and it just really got us fired up. We always do our little huddle before the game and we just said we're going to break this out to Sam and just everything we broke out to that night was Sam and it got us jacked up."

"The kids love him and he loves being around the boys. You know I'm glad I have these guys to be around too," Mintus said.

Sam went home from the Hospital on Monday, the day before the Timberwolves won the Williamsville Holiday tournament.
And if all goes well...he could be back in the bleachers soon.

"I've known Sam since he was born and just to see him again would actually bring a smile to all our faces and we'll come out a lot harder," said Midland senior guard Earl Robinson.

Sam will be in a cast for another 2 and a half weeks but is expected to make a full recovery.

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