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Autumn Orm’s battle with POTS inspires her St. Ignace teammates as they prepare for state championship game

By: Jeff Dullack, March 20, 2015, 4:18 pm



East Lansing – Inspiration for teams come in a variety of ways as a season unfolds.

For St. Ignace LaSalle, its inspiration comes from one of its players, senior guard Autumn Orm.

Throughout her high school career Orm has been in and out hospital trying to pinpoint why she has been slowed down on the basketball court, limited to playing for just seconds at a time.

Then, in 2014, she got her answer.

Orm was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition that prevents her from being on the court for long periods of time. 

“It affects my autonomic nerves,” Orm said. “Basically, they’re stretched out and the signals from my nerves can’t go to my muscles sometimes. So after I exert for a short period of time, it will kick in and my nerves won’t send signals to my muscles telling me to go. So then hyperventilating kicks in because of the lactic acid and my legs don’t work basically.”

And every step of the way, Orm’s will to be on the court with her team and play has been an inspiration for the Saints.

“She just battled for so many years and they couldn’t diagnose what it was,” St. Ignace coach Dorene Ingalls said. “She’s been flying out to Mayo for a week trying to get this figured out and get the right medications and she just kept at it and kept at it and she’s such an inspiration. She’s an amazing kid, one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet and she’s got the biggest heart in the world.”

Orm played on last year’s St. Ignace team, which finished runner up in Class C, falling to Saginaw Nouvel. In the semifinal game against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, she scored four points to help the Saints advance.

This year, Orm saw the floor for eight minutes in St. Ignace’s Class D semifinal win over Frankfort. She scored two points and tallied an assist to help the Saints return to another state championship game scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. against Pittsford.

“It means everything to me,” she said. “Basketball teaches me I can do anything even with certain conditions or diseases here and there, it keeps pushing me forward and to never give up. As long as you keep going and try your hardest, you’ll do things in life.”

Ingalls said that seeing her senior guard overcome what she has in her high school career and to play on a stage as large as the state semifinals at the Breslin Center is something she’s very prideful of seeing.

“I’m as proud as a parent could be,” she said. “I’m trying not to cry right now, she’s just amazing. She’s what high school sports is all about.”

According to Ingalls, Orm wore a backpack with infusion going into her mediport on the bus ride down to East Lansing from St. Ignace, with the hopes of playing extended time on Thursday.

For her teammates, having Orm on the court with them, on a big stage in high school sports, is highly inspirational and emotions are sure to be at a fever pitch on Saturday with the Saints just one win away from a fifth state title.

“Autumn has been my best friend since she moved here in third grade,” St. Ignace senior Margo Brown said. “It hasn’t been easy for her at all. She’s had a lot of trouble and a lot of complications. She’s gone to a ton of doctor’s appointments across the country and they’re finally starting to figure it out.

“She’s not only an awesome basketball player, but she’s an even better friend and she gives it her all no matter what. Whether it’s 10 seconds, 30 seconds or a minute and a half, she give it her all. And not only is she a huge inspiration for our whole team, but for our town.”

Ingalls said that the inspiration to her team that Orm provides is easy to see, because of the effort she puts forth whenever she’s out on the floor.

“They get inspired because they know that if she’s able to get out there and bust and dive on the floor, then dog gone it, they should be able to too,” Ingalls. Said. “She’s got a mediport in her and chemicals going in her just to keep her going, it’s very inspiring.”

Basketball isn’t Orm’s only sport. She’s a state champion in track and field. Orm won the Upper Peninsula Division 2 long jump last spring with a jump of 15 feet, 3 ¼ inches. She also competed on the 400- and 800-meter relay teams that won state titles in 2013 in Division 3.

Ingalls said that her accomplishments in track and basketball are a testament to the type of person Orm is.

“She’s just a competitor,” Ingalls said. “She’s won the long jump in the UP because the long jump event is quick. She’s athletic, she loves it and she was really an amazing junior high player and then this onset came on in her first year of high school and we weren’t sure what was wrong. First they were checking her for cancer, then checking her for all these other things, they were going to tear open her chest and do some different things and then they figured out it was POTS this year. They’ve been doing testing for three straight years and she was gone for weeks at a time for treatments and she’s made it through.”

It’s with that kind of perseverance that has led St. Ignace to rally around its senior guard

Orm said she’s truly touched to be an inspiration for her team as she started to tear up, and added that as she goes on, she hopes to continue to be a difference maker in the lives of others as well.

“It means a lot to me because I’ve been through a lot of really hard things,” she said. “To hear them say that I’m an inspiration is just amazing. I just hope that I can make a difference with other people too.”