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Exceptional Athlete, Max Gilmore, defies odds to compete in Super Smash Bros.ᵀᴹ Ultimate Match

A mere week after brain surgery a high school player wins with his team while still in the hospital

PlayVS Staff
Oct 20, 2021

“Is Max still on the team?”

That was the question a competitive gaming coach at Mahar Regional School in Orange, Massachusetts received from a mother recently. Her son, Max Gilmore, had just woken up from brain surgery and had immediately wondered if he was still part of the team. 

Gilmore was 75 miles away from his team at an emergency room in Boston. But the thought of missing an upcoming match was one of his biggest concerns. Not the surgery. Not his condition. The coach told Gilmore that of course, his spot was secure and that the team was excited for his return. 

But Gilmore wasn’t about to wait. He wasn’t about to miss the match. A few days after brain surgery, Gilmore was competing from his hospital bed. 

A Super Smash Bros.ᵀᴹ Ultimate Match Unlike Any Other...

What makes Gilmore an exceptional athlete is his determination and passion. The high school junior has not let anything get in the way of his goals. Despite being in a wheelchair due to Sacral Agenesis and Vater Syndrome, Gilmore competed on the school’s wrestling team and track and field team, even winning a state championship. 

And now his goal is to excel as a competitive gamer.

For Gilmore, this is more than being an inspiration. The honors student was born with two constellation birth defects, has a missing thumb and unbending fingers on his left hand is missing muscle mass on his right thumb, and has undergone 17 surgeries. But ask Gilmore about his condition and he says: “My brain just doesn’t communicate with my legs like most people.” 

That’s it. Moving on. 

When Gilmore woke up from the brain surgery, he requested that his Nintendo Switch be brought to the hospital. The night after the surgery, Gilmore tried to practice online but couldn’t get the hospital’s WiFi to work properly. 

As you could probably guess, Gilmore didn’t let that stop him from practicing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and competing with his team. Determined, Gilmore pleaded with nurses to try different WiFi connections. The match was in jeopardy and he needed something to happen. Fast. His school decided to get him a WiFi hotspot but it couldn’t arrive in time for his fast-approaching match. 

Gilmore’s match was rescheduled at the coach’s request. 

And then the hotspot finally arrived. Friday morning, a week after surgery, Gilmore was playing against one of his coaches, Justin St. Pierre (a former student who formed the school’s gaming program). Gilmore was back. 

...And the Team That Made It Possible

Even though his teammates knew of his determination, Gilmore showing up to the match was still a shock. He had popped onto Discord a few hours earlier that day, asking for some warmup matches before the actual match. 

By the time of the match, Gilmore was more than ready. Brain surgery? That was a thing of the past. A whole week ago. Anesthesia? That was an entire few hours ago. Everyone knows the key to success in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is focusing on the here and now, putting your all into the match in front of you. 

And that’s exactly what Gilmore did, resulting in a 2-0 victory. 

While Gilmore’s team might see the talented and passionate athlete as an inspiration, those closest to Gilmore know that he needs the team just as much as they need him. Competitive gaming has changed Gilmore’s life. 

“Esports is a way for Max to socialize with his peers where he normally couldn’t,” Gilmore’s father, Morgan, later told us. “Quite frankly, he comes alive when he is talking with them. Listening to him laugh and interact with the team, you would never know he had just brain and abdominal surgery.” 

Gilmore is one in a million. Not because of his conditions or surgeries but because of how he’s overcome them. And that has spilled into how he treats his competitive gaming career as well. Gilmore doesn’t let anything stop him. It’s all about pushing yourself, trying your best, and encouraging your teammates to do the same. 

Oh, and popping off no matter where you are. You deserve it. 

Get your own high school competitive gaming team up and running, today.