Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim is not known for his cheerful disposition. On the basketball court, he can be downright grumpy,
Boeheim was all smiles, however, after reuniting with a Syracuse superfan who met him on a plane flight last week. The first meeting produced a photograph that went viral on social media when Julie Tennant introduced herself to the legendary coach.
Tennant, 44, has Down syndrome. She had boarded a 6 a.m. flight from Syracuse to a fundraiser in Kansas City, when her older brother, Dennis Tennant, noticed Boeheim sitting in front of them, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported.
Passengers who saw Boeheim sitting quietly in his aisle seat whispered but did not say anything, the newspaper reported. That was no problem for Julie Tennant, who walked up to the coach, shook his hand and said, 'Hey, I'm Julie. If you need me, I'm right behind you,'" the Post-Standard reported.
Derrick Tennant managed to snap a photo while trying to suppress a laugh.
“She sees him like anybody else,” Derrick Tennant told the newspaper. “She sees everybody the same. But she loves Syracuse, so she wanted to say ‘Hi.'"
That first meeting even made Boeheim smile.
"Most people don't come up to me," Boeheim told WTVH on Monday. "They're afraid, I think, but Julie wasn't afraid - came right up and that's great -- I think it's a great thing."
Impressed with Julie Tennant's moxie, Boeheim invited her to visit him at his basketball office, the Post-Standard reported.
Boeheim played tour guide as he showed Julie the team's practice facility, where she met former Orange star John Wallace, WTVH reported. The coach also gave her an autographed basketball and hat, and promised to get her tickets to a game this season, the television station reported.
"It's just awesome that Julie just being Julie has turned into something affecting thousands of people," Derrick Terrant told the Post-Standard. "It's so cool, and it's just her being herself.
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