May 8, 2010
Another season gone by
Alex always subbed at the mid field position in the middle of the activity. She became very good at letting her team mates take the ball when in her vicinity, and her team mates became very good at covering for her. It was a very symbiotic relationship. She had a few great passes, but spent the majority of her time hustling up and down the field.
The best part of seeing Alex actively participate in high school sports is the other team, the refs and the parents. I never ever saw any sign of disbelief that our team had an athlete with down syndrome. On the contrary, Alex was high fived, encouraged and sometimes overly included in the yells of support from the girls. In these last games she was high-fived by the refs; none of the other girls received this high regard.
Parents on both teams cheered when Alex was in the game. Screams of “Go Alex” came from both sides of the field. John and I were quite popular after Alex played, we got compliments galore. I must qualify that statement; it was mostly John. I did not have the freedom to leave the Office early, and John was able to make more games. I was glad for the excuse. I am not so anxious to stand out in the cold, rain and sometimes snow; I let John handle that.
Our coaches were kind and inclusion. They followed through with their assurances from our first conversation. Alex was expected to go to practice and participate, but accommodations were made. Alex cannot run two miles, like the other girls, but she can sprint and run a few laps around the field. I do not know if this is related to down syndrome, but Alex overheats faster than the other girls. She also has extra poundage, which probably taxes her lungs.
Alex is not good at throw ins, and is scared of head balls, but she can pass, shoot and dribble. She was expected to participate in every drill in some form or another. She was given a little slack but not too much. She practiced and therefore played.
Alex’s ankle and wrist injuries disappeared and her hygiene improved. She showered almost every day after soccer practice, was tired and went to bed early. There were team dinners and bus trips to away games, a genuine social life! Added bonus - the Disney Channel got a rest from Alex.
The school year, or should I say high school sports year, is wrapping up. Alex participated in football (manager), basketball and soccer. Next year, Alex has informed me, she wants to play softball in the fall, volleyball in the winter and soccer in the spring. I am not quite so convinced. I do not think softball or volleyball are safe sports for Alex. To me, the ball moves too fast and Alex’s few second reflex delays could potentially cause an injury. Intervention on my part is necessary.
As with last summer, when we had to talk Alex out of playing on the football team, and becoming the Manager instead, I have my work cut out for me. My challenge, and goal, is to make a 16 year old believe it was her idea to forgo a particular sport not that of an over cautious mother. Down syndrome has not affected Alex’s ability to recognize a con job when she sees one. Wish me luck!