Photo & Story Courtesy of Dave Latva/St. Ignace News
ST. IGNACE — Autumn Orm is a valued member of the St. Ignace Saints girls basketball team and has been one of the first reserves to see action on the court during their successful season.
But the junior stays on the court for only a short time, between 30 seconds and one minute, owing to a chronic neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia gravis. Chronic muscle fatigue and difficulty breathing can be among its symptoms.
“We, as coaches, and Autumn, know how long she can play each time on the court,” said Saints coach Dorene Ingalls. “She gives everyone inspiration that you can not coach.”
Orm is this year’s recipient of the Gil Heard Courageous Athlete Award, presented by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. The award is named in honor of the late Gil Heard, who was Sports Information Director at Northern Michigan University for 23 years and is a member of the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame. The Heard Award is presented annually to a U.P. athlete who demonstrates perseverance in overcoming a handicap to participate in athletics.
Orm contributed four points in three minutes of playing time in the state semifinals against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. She scored at the 2:17 mark of the second quarter, which gave the Saints a 16-7 lead. Her second field goal on a running jump shot came with 3:30 left in the game which gave the Saints a 30-26 edge and they went on to win 34-30.
“Autumn only shoots when she feels comfortable,” Ingalls said. “And (for) her two field goals against Liggett, she felt great. They were huge for our team. Her defensive effort has been very important to our success.”
Autumn is the daughter of Jodi and Ted Orm.
“We finally found out what was wrong. She actually came down with issues during her freshman year running cross country,” said Mrs. Orm, “And this fall (2013) she was diagnosed with Myasthenia gravis. The Saints coaches and teammates have worked with Autumn to make her a big part of the team.”