Photo courtesy of the Champaign News-Gazette
There is a famous scene in the movie RUDY (read IHSA State interview with Rudy)
, where Rudy finds out that his coach, Ara Parseghian, has left Notre Dame, and he is left wondering if the new coach will keep Parseghian's promise to let him suit-up for a game the next season.
Last week's Week 9 Heart of Illinois Conference tilt between Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (GCMS) and Heyworth contained a similar story arch.
GCMS coach Mike Allen had asked Heyworth’s coach the previous season if Dylan Brownlee, the team’s then junior manager who has autism, could score a touchdown against the Hornets the next season on GCMS’s senior night.
New Heyworth coach Brian Bradshaw’s quick decision to uphold that promise lacked the Hollywood drama of the aforementioned film. He reflected on the importance of the play and its impact.
“When Coach Allen and I were talking about Dylan at a coaches clinic, I immediately recognized how special he was and what he meant to their football team. I could relate to Coach Allen's passion for Dylan because our team also has a manager with Autism and he has been in the Heyworth football program for the past three years. As a coach, sometimes you get caught up in the wins and losses and it's important for our players to know there is so much more to this game. We talk a lot about being a family and supporting each other on and off the field. When I mentioned this idea to our team, our players immediately thought it was a cool and were excited to be part of a young man's dream of scoring a touchdown. When we arrived at GCMS, Coach Allen stepped on our bus to thank our team for giving Dylan this opportunity. We all knew then it was going to be a special night.”
"Special" was a great way of describing it, as Marcus Jackson of the Champaign News-Gazette
wrote about in a follow-up story entitled "Score one for the good guy
", which you can read here