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Special day for Troup basketball family

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

There were smiles all around.

Troup High girls’ basketball coach Carla Thornton and three of her players took some time out of their day on Wednesday to spend a few hours at The Exceptional Way facility in LaGrange.

The Exceptional Way is a day program for individuals with disabilities, and it gives them a place where they relax and enjoy themselves while learning skills that’ll help them thrive in the world.

Thornton has a relationship with someone affiliated with The Exceptional Way, so she readily agreed to come and visit the facility and spend time with everyone there.

“One of my former classmates, she works there, and she’d reached out to me on Facebook,” Thornton said. “She told me she thought we’d be one of the teams that would love to do something like that, and I said yes, as soon as we get the time. Today happened to be a good time for us, so we made sure we went out there.”

Thornton was joined by Troup basketball players Alexcia Murphy, Monyia Murphy and Asia Fitzpatrick.

“We played some basketball with them, raced with them, had some good conversations,” Thornton said. “We had a great time, kids and adults. They had so much joy in themselves being there around people who respect who they are, and allow them to be themselves, and push them to be better.”

Thornton believes it was a valuable experience for her players.

“I’d talked to them about it. It’s always great to learn wisdom from other people,” Thornton said. “That was my main thing with them. We have to learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

“Everything is not how it seems in life. Just being with those people, it brings out the youthfulness in some of us. The kids were laughing. We were laughing. It was all fun. They told us stories about their (lives), and they knew about us.”

Thornton has enjoyed an exceptional tenure as Troup’s coach, and the program has been thriving in recent years.

After reaching the Class AAAA state-championship game in 2020, Troup made it to the state semifinals in 2021.

This summer, Thornton has been leading the players through daily workouts at the school, and the team has also participated in a handful of play dates.

While participation among the players has been sporadic, Thornton makes sure that whoever shows up will get something out of it.

“When they do come, whether it’s one, whether it’s four, whether it’s eight, we’re going to put some work in,” Thornton said.