Luke Derheim is Fergus' Rudy Ruettiger
FHS’s Luke Derheim waits at the scorer’s bench for his chance to enter the basketball game against Havre on Saturday.
Photo by Doreen Heintz
FHS manager enjoys 20 seconds of fame on the basketball court
When Luke Derheim made his way to the scoring table at the Fergus High School Fieldhouse on Saturday night, the FHS student body began yelling, “Luke, Luke.”
At the next dead ball and with about 20 seconds left on the clock in the important conference game against Central A rival Havre, the chant of “Luke, Luke,” became louder. Luke looked at Coach Scott Sparks a couple of times as he goes on the court, looking for any last minute instructions.
The next 20 seconds were a tremendous example of what sports are all about. Havre scored, and Luke took the ball out-of-bounds, passed it to one of his teammates and headed up the court. The Blue Ponies were applying full-court pressure on defense, but forgot to cover Luke as he sprinted toward the Fergus basket. Three quick passes and suddenly the ball was in Luke’s hands. A couple of quick dribbles and up went Luke for a layup.
The crowd seemed to hold its breath to see if the ball would go through the basket. After circling the rim one time, the ball fell through the net. The whole Fieldhouse crowd erupted.
The Fergus student body rushed the court and surrounded Luke to congratulate him. Luke’s smile showed just how much that basket meant to him.
“I didn’t know if the shot was going to drop for me or not, especially when it rolled around on the rim,” said Luke. “I really wanted to get into the game tonight. When we got ahead I kept thinking ‘I am going to get in.’ But when they got back within 6 points I didn’t know for sure, but they pulled it out in the end.”
Digestion of proteins causes Luke problems
When Luke was born, his body could not break down proteins like the rest of us. The condition is known as PKU. He has been on a special diet throughout his entire life, which includes measuring all of his food and drinking a special protein mixture three times a day.
Because of the special diet, Luke has not grown as much as other young men, but that has not stopped him from being a strong sports enthusiast. Luke ran track in junior high and his first two years of high school. As a freshman Luke played basketball for the Golden Eagles.
Although he continued to practice with the Fergus teams over his high school year, Luke had never gotten on the floor as a varsity player - that is, until Saturday evening. He has been a part of the team by being the manager and making sure all the videoing was done for the Fergus coaches.
Saturday night, which was senior night for four basketball players, including Luke, Coach Sparks let Luke dress out for the game and said he would try to get Luke in the game. That dream came true with 20 seconds left in the contest.
As the Havre Coach Curt Leeds remarked after the ball game, “This is what sports is really supposed to be about.”
Luke’s story reminds me of Rudy
Luke’s story reminds me a lot of the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. A 1993 movie called “Rudy” was made about how Rudy, an undersized football player, wanted to go to Notre Dame and play football for the Fightin’ Irish. When he finally makes the Notre Dame team, he is always the hardest worker for the Irish. In the last home game of Rudy’s senior year at Notre Dame, the student body begins chanting Rudy’s name as the seconds tick off in the contest. Rudy finally gets into the game with approximately 20 seconds left in the contest. Playing defense, Rudy makes a big tackle on the opponent’s quarterback resulting in a loss on the play.
When the game ends in victory for the Fightin’ Irish, Rudy is carried off the field by his Notre Dame teammates. I don’t know how many times I have watched the movie over the years, but it is one of my all time favorites.
Here is a salute to all of the Lukes and Rudys out there.