HS Freshman with Down Syndrome Inspires with Beautiful Preseason Touchdown

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterAugust 20, 2013

Over the weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn., Austin Clark, a freshman who has down syndrome, took the ball 85 yards for a touchdown, aided by his teammates who clamored to block for their friend. 

It was beautiful. 

Yahoo! Sports reports on Hixson High School's most popular player, a young man who inspires his fellow teammates with his passion for football and the hard work he continues to pour into it. 

The Times Free Press spoke with coach Jason Fitzgerald and several of the players, who beam with pride when they discuss Clark. 

One player, senior running back Isaiah Robinson, was quick to offer that the freshman who is listed as both a defensive lineman as well as a running back is "just like my brother," a sentiment also delivered in the Chattanooga Times Free Press report posted below. 

Fitzgerald makes the point that Clark wants nothing more than to be a high school football player, something a great many of us can relate to. 

As the coach offers, the young man didn't want the team to deliver extraordinary measures or make a big deal out of his story. He just wants to play the game he loves. "He's not coming out here for anything special, never wanted us to do anything special for him."

However, when you have a remarkable kid inspiring the entire locker room, spontaneous moments of goodwill and tremendous sportsmanship are unavoidable. 

And so the seniors on the team made their way over to coach in the fourth quarter of a 20-0 game during the Best of Preps jamboree this past weekend. 

Their question was simple, if not truly exceptional: Can Clark get in the game?

Coach Fitzgerald wasn't about to turn down the request of eager young men wanting nothing more than to see Clark's dream come true. 

A quick timeout and brief discussion with the coach from Grace Academy later, and Clark was in the game. With the snap of the ball, Clark was off and running, taking it to the house 65 yards down the field. 

You will find it's rather impossible to keep from smiling when you see the young man score and pump his fist in triumph. 

Smiling is just a lit bit easier at the moment. You might even say it's darn near contagious anytime Clark is around. 


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