Tag Archive | feel-good story

Selfless Act Enables High School Player to Honor His Father


Logan Thompson (left) and Michael Ferns share a hug last Friday after Thompson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that Ferns set up by intentionally stepping out-of-bounds. Thompson’s father died of a stroke earlier in the week. / Jeff Stewart

by Jason Jordan, USA TODAY High School Sports

Early in the fourth quarter of a St. Clairsville (Clairsville, Ohio) win over Edison (Richmond, Ohio) on Oct. 5, Michigan recruit Michael Ferns took a sweep 52 yards down the left sideline and had nothing in the way of him and a touchdown.

But he slowed down as he approached the end zone and walked out-of-bounds at the 1-yard line.

“Mike ran the play to perfection,” St. Clairsville coach Brett McLean said.

Two days earlier, freshman Logan Thompson’s father, Paul, died from a sudden stroke. Once McLean learned that Logan would indeed suit up for Friday’s game against Edison, McLean began to formulate a plan to help his freshman wide receiver “honor his father.”

Secretly, McLean instructed Ferns and the other skill players, if given the chance, to stop short on a touchdown so they could get Logan in.

“When I saw Mike break away down the sideline I just started yelling for Logan,” McLean said. “He was surprised because he – like everyone else – figured Mike would just run it on in. Logan didn’t know anything about what we were doing.”

The officials were equally confused.

When Ferns literally walked away from his 12th touchdown of the season, two officials signaled for a touchdown, a call that Boston College-bound receiver Dan Monteroso adamantly argued.

“I think it’s the first time that the refs have seen our boys argue against us getting a touchdown,” McLean said. “I told Logan, ‘We’re gonna get you in the end zone.”

Thompson, a starter on the freshman team, plays sparingly at best on varsity and never lined up at running back, but McLean simplified the isolation play call with three words: “Just follow Ferns.”

“Mike and the line opened up a huge hole for Logan and he ran it right in,” McLean said. “He had his first touchdown on his first carry. Mike ran up to Logan and gave him a big hug. It was emotional for everyone.”

St. Clairsville ended up winning, 56-27.

Logan’s emotion poured out onto Twitter after the game. “Looking straight up into the sky after scoring my first varsity touchdown…i know the old man was watching! love and miss you so much daddy,” he tweeted.

Still grieving, Logan and Ferns declined to comment on this story.

“They’re teenagers and it’s not something they want to talk about today,” McLean said. “Last Friday was something that touched the whole team. Logan was going through so much and for a few minutes we helped him get his mind off of things. It honored his dad. It was just an awesome moment.”

source: http://www.usatodayhss.com/news/article/michael-ferns-logan-thompson-selfless-act

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The Ike Special


The story below literally brought me to tears, especially after watching the videos. (I’ve watched it  four times and will probably watch it a few more). Kudos to all involved who brought joy to this young man and made him feel so special and like an important member of the team….

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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 running 51 yards with 10 seconds remaining.  The “Ike Special” provided the only points in Snobomish’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.

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.

source: http://rivals.yahoo.com/highschool/blog/prep_rally/post/Down-syndrome-football-player-scores-TD-in-Washi?urn=highschool-272803