Today I decided I wanted to chronicle the life of Alex, a 16 year old high school sophomore with Down Syndrome. I am hoping to share the triumphs and challenges of raising this remarkable daughter.
I choose today to start because it is her third day of school and the first day of football practice. I plan to finish this narrative at the end of July 2010, which coincides with the conclusion of the National Special Olympics in Lincoln, NE where Alex will be representing the state of Colorado in track and field
Yes, football practice. Last spring Alex approached the coach of the boy's football team and told him she wanted to try out for the team. She gave him her father's business card and asked him to call her Dad. So - the very gracious coach did just that. The coach explained to my husband - John - that Alex is not prohibited from trying out - however he wanted to express his concern that there could be a safety issue. I could not agree more. Although Alex does weigh 138 pounds (more on weight challenges later) she is only 4'10'' and her reflexes are not fast enough to avoid a charging adolescent boy or a speeding football. We had our work cut out for us this summer to dissuade her in some way.
I am surprised to say we were successful. Alex has many opinions and desires and it is often very difficult to listen to what I consider reason. Her reason and mine are very different. But after a summer of football stories we are able to persuade her that helping the coach with the team would be much more fun for her. John spoke to the Coach and even I could hear the sigh of relief over the phone. Alex will now be helping to carry the footballs, water bottles and gear for the players as they practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And on Friday evenings for all home games she will remove the tee from the field after kick-offs. I am anticipating the usual meltdowns about the hard work, crushes on the players, and bursts of pride as we make our way through the football season.