Special Inspiration for Northeastern Huskies Tournament Run

Players say 16-year-old Max Plansky, who has cerebral palsy, has been big part of school's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1991

In ways these Huskies never could have predicted when they stepped on campus for the first time, they had already won much more than a trip to the Big Dance.

Jumpers and layups, practice in mid-March - they are welcome signs that the 24-year drought on Huntington Avenue is over.

It's the first NCAA Tournament berth since 1991, before any of these Northeastern University student athletes were born.

It brings an even more special meaning to the word "team" when you consider a 16-year-old boy, unable to walk, is part of the run to the Big Dance.

"It makes me play little bit harder, knowing that he would give anything just to be out there," junior forward Zach Stahl said of Max Plansky. "Seeing him always smiling, always cheering, never having a bad attitude, obviously, just really makes me dig down deep and try to play as hard as I can."

"They said, 'We're going to have Max sit right next to you guys on the bench,'" said sophomore point guard TJ Williams. "When we're in the game and we're playing and we're tired and have to dig down, you think about all those things, you know. And you have something to fight for."

"I love being a part of this team every day. But it feels even more awesome to be advancing to the NCAA tournament," said Max.

It was an amazing way for Max to celebrate his 16th birthday.

Max is a member of the team, signing a letter of intent last season through Team Impact and You're With Us, a non-profit that links college student programs with children with disabilities, created by his father, Michael.

"It was crazy and so cool to be on the court," Max said.

The teen has cerebral palsy and speaks through a voice machine with a head switch. Through his place on the team, he has self-regulated his temper tantrums, and he communicates to his teammates in ways which transcend any limitations.

"We treat him just like every one of the teammates," said head coach Bill Coen. "It's great to see. I'm proud of our guys for that, and I'm grateful for Max teaching those life lessons to our guys."

Getting into the bracket is one thing; wearing the glass slipper another.

So whom does Northeastern want to face in the tournament?

Max knows his stuff. He says he'd rather face Robert Morris than Kansas or Louisville.

Expect to see Northeastern get a 14 or 15 seed on Sunday.

Max will be there at the Cabot Center for Selection Sunday, and wherever Northeastern lands in the bracket.

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