Who cries at a middle school football banquet?
The middle school football season is over. It was a great season. Not only did my son's team go undefeated, they beat several school records in the process. At the football banquet, the coaches even praised the boys for getting along so well throughout the season. This was a team without bickering or posturing, and no cliques. They voluntarily wore pink for breast cancer awareness in honor of the assistant coach's mom. And the boys even helped orchestrate a diaper drive for a rival coach whose wife delivered quintuplets during the season.
They had fun, and it really was a great season, but that is not what had everyone tearing up. The coach saved the best for last.
Before the season began, a mom approached the coach to ask him to please make her son one of the football managers. He wanted to try-out for the team, but she did not want him to because her son falls in the autism spectrum. He doesn't like to be touched, can't stand anything in his mouth, and she just didn't want him to get hurt. Being a typical middle school football coach, he didn't have time for melodrama, so he just said, "If he wants to play, let him."
At the banquet, the coach elaborated a little more. He figured the kid would try out, get hit once, and not want to play anymore. Then, he would make him a manager.
What happened, instead, was the kid did get hit, and he hit others. He loved the action, loved the game, but more than that, he loved hanging out with his friends. The truth is, most of the boys had known each other throughout elementary school. All he wanted to do was be a part of the team. And he was. He was the first one on the field after school every day; he didn't miss a practice and played his heart out, according to the coach.
That's when it happened. When his name was called to get his certificate, and Michael walked up, proudly "with purpose," shook all of the coaches' hands, and smiled the biggest smile. His teammates cheered as all of the moms in the room pulled out tissues.
"Let him play."
That is a tough call when your child wants to do something completely out of character. What if they get hurt? What if it turns out badly? Or, what if their excitement and bravery inspires everyone in the process?
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