Goochland athlete proving his basketball skills despite height: 'Pure love of the game'

Posted at 9:50 AM, Apr 05, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. --Wes Farkas has been teaching and coaching at Goochland High School for over two decades.

He's their baseball coach, but you should hear about the kid he coaches in basketball.

"Probably an 80-85% shooter. When we play one on one, he's a lock down defender," Farkas explains, "He's the first one with a basketball and the last one to put it away. He'll tell you, he's fired up every time he gets a chance to touch a basketball."

Coach Farkas's star pupil is Conner Emmert, who has quickly become the darling of Goochland's Unified Basketball team.

Conner was born with Primordial Dwarfism, a condition so rare there are only about 200 cases world wide.

But ask anyone who knows him and they will say that even more rare, is Conner's enthusiasm and positivity not just for himself but his teammates.

"The way he plays, you would never know that he had those disadvantages," Coach Farkas stated. "He plays as though he's equal to all the other opponents. To see his attitude out there is amazing."

"Not everybody is a big basketball player," Conner explained about his enthusiasm. "We want to work together and do good team work and passing. We work hard together."

Conner has endured two brain surgeries and another for spinal fusion to correct scoliosis. You can imagine his parent's apprehension about letting him out of their sight. But the Emmerts are and athletic family and Conner is no different.

"We didn't baby him," Kim Emmert, Conner's mother stated. "Certain things we had to help him a little more with but in terms of everything else. He was chastised by his siblings and teased a little bit and given a hard time just as anybody else."

Through Goochland's Unified Sports program, Conner has had the chance to try all different kinds of sports and activities. And he's given those around him a new perspective not just on him and kids like him, but on themselves as well.

Coach Farkas explained the impact seeing Conner perform with a team has, "They just love being out there for the pure love of the game. It's a lot of fun to watch."

Conner participated in the Special Olympics state games for the first time this year which was a huge accomplishment. But all any parent can ask is that the world treat their child with the kindness they would receive at home. Conner's first Unified game in front of the student body erased many of the doubts and fears his mom had about his surroundings.

"It literally brought me to tears.... happy tears," Kim Emmert explained of the event. "That was a very emotional moment based on the fact that just knowing that he's accepted."

Conner just wrapped his first year in the Special Olympics and plans to run track this spring.

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