Nobody loves Citrus High School boys basketball more than Todd Mys does.
He would be the first to say it has made him the man he is today.
“I was born with cerebral palsy, so I didn’t have the hand/eye coordination to play,” he said. “But in 1987 in my sophomore year, Coach Chuck Gannon called me into his office during tryouts and told me, ‘You’re the hardest working kid out there.’”
And although Mys never made the team as a player, Gannon still gave him a place on the varsity team as manager.
He was part of the team when they won the district championship in 1990.
Now, as Director of Game Day Operations, Mys begins his 33rd year with the team as its hardest working, most dedicated volunteer.
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the CHS Hurricanes hosted a 7:30 p.m. preseason tip-off game with Pasco High School.
But Mys was at the school at 1 p.m. getting things ready, putting cans of soda on ice for parents to sell at the concessions stand, putting out the candy and popcorn, getting the hot dogs and pizzas ready to be heated up, getting the coolers of water ready for the players.
He makes sure the locker rooms are ready for the players, gets the towels out, hangs up the players’ game jerseys so they’re easy to find. He lowers the bleachers in the gym, makes sure the baskets are down, plugs in the game clock.
Then he gets ready to greet the game officials and the visiting team when they arrive and escort them to where they need to be.
“I remember Todd as a high school student when I started here as a teacher,” said CHS boys basketball coach Tom Densmore. “I remember the coach at the time telling the players how much the managers do for the team and that (Todd) was just as big a part of the program as anybody else.
“Over the years, he’s just stayed with us and his role keeps expanding. About 10 years ago, he was named Director of Game Day Operations...it’s a big role, and it’s a big burden lifted off me. Sometimes when we go to away games, I see the other coaches doing the things Todd does, and to have him taking care of everything the way he does — you can’t put a price on it.”
Growing up with cerebral palsy wasn’t easy for 48-year-old Mys.
“When I was little, I walked on ‘tippy toes’ — I had trouble walking and had metal crutches,” he said. “In first or second grade, through (physical) therapy I was able to get rid of the crutches. To this day, there’s still exercises I do.”
When he was four, Mys went to an Elks Rehabilitation Hospital in Eustis where he stayed for six months.
“If I had good reviews from my therapy, my dad would take me to Zayres or Ames and buy me T-shirts or baseball cards,” he said.
After that, Mys went to the Shriners Hospital in Tampa.
As a boy, Mys loved baseball, but he couldn’t play on a Little League team.
“The one sport I excelled at was bowling,” he said. “My dad was a professional bowler, and when I graduated high school he opened the pro shop at the (bowling alley) in Leesburg. I got to bowl and help my dad in the pro shop.
“Then in 2000, I overcame the odds and bowled my first 300 game,” he said. “I was so emotional — I jumped so high, my head hit the score table at Manatee Lanes. I’ve had a few 300s since then.”
The day of the preseason game against Pasco High School, Mys had on his black CHS polo shirt, all set for the start of a new season.
As a Chronicle reporter shadowed him during the afternoon, Mys pointed out “his” trophy in the gym trophy case, when the team won the 1990 district championships.
“This is the 30th anniversary of our win,” he said. “I think this year we’ll be very competitive. I’m excited — we have a couple of new JV coaches, and we’ve got a little bit of size this year It’s a good group of kids. That’s why they’re where they’re at.”
During a brief stop at CHS Activities Director Larry Bishop’s office, Bishop said, “Todd IS Citrus High School. We joke and say if he cut his arm, he would bleed black and gold...Seriously, we’re very grateful to have Todd as part of our basketball program, and we can’t say enough about him and the relationships he builds with our kids.”
Mys said he was the one who is grateful.
“Citrus High School allows me to come and be a part of Citrus basketball — it’s something that I love.”
Later he added that he didn’t sleep well the night before — too keyed up and excited about the new season, going over in his head all that he needed to do.
“I want everything to be right,” he said. “I’m all about being a good host. That’s what Citrus High School is all about.”