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Thread: HS team foregoes shutout game to allow a player with Down Syndrome to score a TD

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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    Red face HS team foregoes shutout game to allow a player with Down Syndrome to score a TD

    High schooler with Down Syndrome scores TD
    Opposing team gives up shutout, lets 15-year-old Zeisel make score late
    KMBC-TV
    updated 1:01 p.m. PT, Sat., Sept . 19, 2009

    nbcsports.com Video Player

    ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - A freshman at Benton High School in St. Joseph, Mo., is being treated like a VIP after scoring the only touchdown for his team in a losing game this week.

    Matt Ziesel, 15, has Down Syndrome.

    On Monday night, the Benton Cardinals football team was losing its game against Maryville.

    "Looking back, it's a great game. At the time we were down 46 to nothing and it was probably the worst-looking game I've ever seen as a coach," Benton Coach Dan McCamy told KMBC's Bev Chapman.

    That's when McCamy asked the opposing team to give up a shutout and let Ziesel carry the ball.

    "Have you always wanted to play football?" Chapman asked Ziesel.

    "Yes, I do play good," Ziesel said.

    "His effort's there all the time — he's just like anyone else on the team to us," McCamy said.

    So McCamy decided to approach the opposing team for a special play.

    "I did come over to some confused looks. They're, like, 'Ten seconds left in the game, 46 to nothing, what is he going to do? Throw in the towel?'" McCamy said.

    Instead, he asked them if they would let them run what he called Matt's Play. (YouTube Video Posted Below)

    "I don't want him touched. No physical contact, but I want it to be as real as possible," McCamy said.

    To add to the effect, McCamy ran along the sidelines, shouting.

    "'They're right behind you — you've got to go. They're going to get you. They're going to get you!'" McCamy shouted.

    But they didn't. The Maryville team played like champions and let the 5-foot-3, 105-pound running back have the glory of the goal.

    "The people at Maryville were terrific. Our fans have always been supportive," said Mike Ziesel, Matt's father.

    "You hear the loud cheering and see the support they give him. It's a sign of real sportsmanship and that winning is not the most important thing, or shutouts are not the most important thing," Mike Ziesel said.

    Matt's father is a high school athletic director, and all of his brothers and sisters play sports.

    McCamy is a former defensive lineman for the University of Missouri.


    URL: High schooler with Down Syndrome scores TD - Other sports- nbcsports.msnbc.com


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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Bless those kids. This is so sweet.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    ok, that made me cry!

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    That was a cool thing to do. But, then again, when you're about to win 46-0 it's easy to be charitable.

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    Elite Member Karistiona's Avatar
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    Aw I shed a wee tear there! What a nice thing to do
    I smile because I have no idea what's going on

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    I am a sports fanatic, and that is how it's supposed to be. Shed a tear as I always do when I see people being the best they can be!!
    If i hear one more personal attack, i will type while drunk, then you can cry! - Bugdoll
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    Elite Member angelais's Avatar
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    That is great!! Nice to see true kindness in the world.
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    Elite Member JadeStar70's Avatar
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    Awwww.....that is really nice. I am glad that the oposing team went along with it for Matt. I bet that made his night and a highlight he will treasure for life.

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    awwww my heart just melted.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Let's see them do that when they're tied.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    It has happened again. It is a wonderful show of sportsmanship on both sides and teaches the kids a valuable lesson.

    Down syndrome football player scores TD in Washington game - Prep Rally - Highschool* - Yahoo! Sports
    Down syndrome football player scores TD in Washington game
    By Cameron Smith
    Ike Ditzenberger is like a lot of other 17-year-old American football players. He dreams of playing college football. He attends daily practices. Most of the time he toils away in offensive drills. Then, on rare occasions, Ditzenberger runs into the limelight with aplomb. The description could fit thousands of American teenagers, except for one crucial detail: Ike Ditzenberger has Down Syndrome.



    Ditzenberger, a junior at Snohomish (Wash.) High School, achieved a major milestone on Friday in a game against Lake Stevens, running 51 yards for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining. The "Ike Special" provided the only points in Snohomish's 35-6 loss. It was the first varsity touchdown in Ditzenberger's career, a ramble through an opposing defense that mirrors the end to Snohomish practices every day, when Ditzenberger gets the final run of practice and somehow finds the end zone, through a combination of running guile and intentionally passive defenders.

    "He's someone that everybody can kind of enjoy because he has such a great personality and character," Snohomish senior captain Keith Wigney told the Everett Herald in a feature on Ditzenberger.

    [Related: Female HS football player breaks down walls]

    For Ditzenberger's feel-good story to go beyond practice to an actual competitive game took an assist from the coaching staff at Lake Stevens. The Vikings' coaches not only instructed their players to let Ditzenberger score, but to make it look relatively competitive in the process to make the moment more real for the Snohomish junior. In the video above you can see a handful of Lake Stevens defenders make diving runs at Ditzenberger, only to come up agonizingly short. Or perhaps gleefully short, in this case.

    The moment wasn't without precedent. Lake Stevens also collaborated with Snohomish for Ditzenberger's other touchdown, a gallop through the Vikings defense in a junior-varsity game last November, which you can see below.



    For his part, Ditzenberger has trained for such a touchdown each day for the past three years. He practices every day with the Snohomish junior-varsity team, but gets the final run of the varsity practice as long as he adheres to two conditions Snohomish head football coach Mark Perry relayed to the Everett Herald:

    "I make him a deal," Perry told the Everett Herald. "‘If you keep your shoulder pads on and your mouth piece in, you're going to get a play.'"

    Ditzenberger first became obsessed with football by watching his brothers play the sport. One, Jake, was also on the Snohomish team with Ike for the younger Ditzenberger's first two seasons. Taking part in a sport in which his older brother starred helps Ike bond with him, and gives the 5-foot-5 17-year-old a sense of place despite his limitations.

    That role as part of a larger team has made football one of most important aspects of Ditzenberger's life. Here's how his mother, Kay, described the importance of football to the Everett Herald:

    Down syndrome kids "don't learn by what they hear; they learn by what they see," Ike's mother said. "So he's a real imitator. For him to be able to watch and learn by doing, and to be like his older brothers, is a really big deal."

    For Snohomish's program, Ike has become a big deal. His runs at the end of practice build camaraderie and sense of routine for the rest of the team. And they help place sports in perspective.

    On Friday, the "Ike Special" even provided the Panthers' only points. Of course, Snohomish coach Perry may have had that play up his sleeve the whole time. After all, he sees just how effective it is at the end of every single practice.
    You don't engage with crazies. Because they're, you know, fucking crazy. - WitchCurlGirl

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    Elite Member JadeStar70's Avatar
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    I love stories like this,...so awesome!! I am sure he was so thrilled!!!

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    Elite Member Bellatheball's Avatar
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    It might have been nicer if everyone didn't broadcast what was done. The kid is bound to read it and I'd hate to think it'd take away from his excitement. No one wants to be "given" anything, not even special needs kids.

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