Valley Catholic photo by Cheri McDevitt
Grace Mannen sinks first basket against Rainier in honorary moment. 
Valley Catholic photo by Cheri McDevitt
Grace Mannen sinks first basket against Rainier in honorary moment. 
BEAVERTON — When Valley Catholic senior basketball player Grace Mannen sustained a serious knee injury earlier this year, it ended her season.

The Feb. 12 game against Rainier was especially poignant. It was Senior Night: the culmination of a student athlete's experience. An evening that could have been filled with sadness became a celebration when coaches from both teams recognized an opportunity to do something good.

The Valiant girls coaching staff—John Innes, Pat Thomas, Meg Coussens, Emily Keagbine, and Allison Waibel — were the instigators of a heartfelt gesture. They approached Doug Knox, coach of rival Rainier, with the idea that Mannen would get the opening tip-off, and then Valley Catholic would call a time-out and sub her out.

Knox had every right to refuse; it was going to be a tough game. But Knox did them one better, and offered to give Mannen a chance to score without interference.

As planned, the Valiants got the tip-off, then Knox's team backed off as the Valiants passed the ball to Grace. In a move that amazed everyone in the gym, she took the shot and scored the first basket of the evening. With her teammates surrounding her, she made her way off the court to the cheers and tears of the crowd, and received hugs from her teammates and coaches.

Word of the event has spread, even on social media. In just two days, a Facebook post of the event had more than 5,000 views.

“Do kindness and hard, clean play matter in a ball game, or at the end of-game handshake?" Melinda Mannen, Grace's mother, wrote on her Facebook page. "Does a smile get noticed, and is it appreciated when you tell the opposing player that was a really nice shot? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. As her mother, I also whispered a thankful prayer, 'Thank you God for helping her make that shot.'”