Sunday, December 2, 2012

Surviving the football banquet

We made it through another football/cheer season.  The Boy made it through a second season earning the Iron Man Award. This is a pretty awesome achievement- the award is given to players and cheerleaders who make every single practice and game. That is 5 days of 2-2.5 hour practices and games every Saturday. Wind, cold, rain, and not too much play time are just a handful of the things that the kids deal with in a season. And to not miss ONE practice or game- well- that DESERVES an award.  I think that they should start a new award for the PARENTS that are at every single practice and game without fail too....(pssst- it's us in case you were wondering!)

My Iron Man!

The banquet is a long, long, LONG afternoon of coaches talking about their players, many tears, lots of accolades and speeches. Trying to get The Boy to sit with his team and goof around is impossible- he always sits with us, headphones in, playing on his iPad. When it is his turn to accept his awards he does it as quickly as he can.  He won't eat any of the food that is served and usually needs to take a break and get out of the room at some point.  We were pleasantly surprised to hear his head coach tell a funny little story about him today- and I watched with pride as the other coaches all hugged him and congratulated him on a job well done.  Do they have any clue how amazing it is that this kid is actually suiting up every day and playing? That sensory and social issues are a daily struggle? That a developmental delay makes him a bully target and that most of this team of 10-11 year old boys help and encourage him- and never make fun? Do they know how lucky THEY are to have the opportunity to work with him? I think a couple of them do- and they will never fathom the depth of my appreciation for their patience and hard work with him. Thank you guys- it just isn't enough.

Peanut Bowl 2012  Runners Up 

Autism and football don't always mix well. Especially at practice when The Boy is sitting way too much for a practice and gets antsy and acts up.  Not being very aggressive and not wanting to hit is a drawback as well. I mean- it's football! Hitting is what it's all about! And it's not like they are not fully padded. Injuries happen, sure. But learning HOW to hit will help avoid injuries and make a kid a player who gets more play time. Lack of an attention span also is a drawback- I don't know how many times we were yelling from the stands "BRUISER! GET OUT ON THE FIELD!"

Drawbacks or no- he IS trying. He IS growing his limited social skills. He IS learning the game- no small feat for any 10 year old kid- but it is a MAJOR milestone for a kid on the spectrum.

Recently, a story was featured on ESPN about Anthony Starego, an autistic high school senior at Brick High School in New Jersey. Anthony was inspired by Rutgers kicker Jeremy Ito and worked for 6 years to become the amazing kicker he is today.  You can read about him here: Autistic Kicker.  I have also included 3 videos of Anthony you just have to watch. I cry every time I watch- he is such an inspiration.

Kicking  is a repetitive action- he can expect the same thing for every play. Just like playing safety or end- but with the possibility of a lot more play time.  One of his coaches today  said he thought it would be awesome for Bruiser to get into the kicker position.  That, and watching Anthony and hearing his story makes me hopeful for The Boy and his football career. 

Over the next 10 months The Mister will work with The Boy on kicking. I really think he has the opportunity to be GREAT. Now to make HIM believe it is HIS idea- that will make him UNSTOPPABLE! 

                          The Lonesome Kicker