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The Olivet Eagles
This is a great story.
My thanks to David Bokovoy and Loyd Ericson for noticing it.
I am more of a peruser than a poster, but I had to comment on this story. This sort of thing happens far more often than we know (happily).
I was officiating a sub-varsity game up in Heber a few years ago. With about a minute to go and the game effectively over, the visiting team coach called a time out and asked to speak with the officiating crew. The coach indicated that they were wanting to bring in player with either Downs syndrome or a similar handicap. They would put him in as one of the running backs but would not handle the ball. They just wanted to get him on the field for a couple of plays, but did not want one of the defensive players to hit him unnecessarily. The coach asked us to just let the defense know so that the kid would not get hurt.
As I went to go talk with the defensive players and let them know the situation, spontaneously one of them said, “Tell them to give him the ball. He needs to score a touchdown.” No coaches involved, and this was the other team, so there was no existing bond between them and the player. They just wanted to give this kid, and everyone else, a good experience. The ball was at midfield, so it was not a situation where they just needed to escort the kid for a few yards.
So I went and told the QB to give him the ball and made sure that they explained to the kid what he was supposed to do. Since this was late in the season and he had been with the team all season, I think he had seen enough to have a good idea. They snapped the ball, gave it to him, and he was off. A couple of defenders had me worried for a while because a couple of them chased him very aggressively at good angles. For a moment I was afraid that they had not understood the message about not hitting him. But in each case they dove just short of him, giving him the feeling that he was really running for a score against his opponents. A great roar of approval from everyone when he scored.
One of my best experiences in officiating high school sports at any level. I have seen similar cases like this, but none so spontaneous and initiated by the opposing team.
Thank you. That’s a wonderful story. I hope others here will read it, as well.
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