MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – A sixth grade football game over the weekend in Miamisburg came to a heartwarming end.
The Miamisburg Wee Vikes were playing against the Kettering Firebirds and the game was a hard-fought battle between the two squads. As the clock wound down the referees and coaches gathered, announcing to the crowd there would be time for one more play.
Fans were confused as they thought the game had ended with the Wee Vikes besting the Firebirds 38-24. But the Wee Vikes’ defense dutifully took the field for one last play.
Kettering then fielded one of its toughest players. 11-year-old José Rodriguez, wearing the number one, took the field at the one-yard line. José had dreamed of playing football since the age of two.
José’s teammates, as well as the opposing team, rooted him on as he scored a touchdown and it touched everyone’s heart.
José was born without a part of his brain that connects the two sides together. His parents were told José wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or feed himself. José has overcome those challenges and more according to his mom.
José has had numerous surgeries to reconstruct his legs which were deformed because of his condition. José also battled epilepsy but has been seizure free for more than three years.
Through it all José’s mom, Tracy, said he still has a smile on his face and is the kind of the kid who can’t be kept down.
Tracy said her son wasn’t thrilled with the attention this moment brought but wanted people to know he is a regular kid spending time with his friends and wants others with disabilities to be included the same way.
“His team has been amazing and supported him all along. The team chose the number 1 for José to wear and gave him the nickname “Dominator”, Tracy said.
José wants people to know he is a regular kid spending time with his friends and wants others with disabilities to be included the same way.
“As a mom of a kid that looks different on the outside, it was awesome to see him be included by another team that wasn’t his own,” Tracy said. “At the same time, it was just another moment of my son making the most out of his life, and making memories, like any other kid. The normalcy of it all, was what made it special to both of us.”
Tracy said José’s team never leaves him out. Even when he can’t participate, teammates on the sideline, they talk to him or throw the ball with him. “When he can participate, he’s been able to be quarterback at practices, etc. I got to watch as he won the King of the Ring drill because his teammates are always building him up,” Tracy said.
José later told his mom while he knew they let him win, “he needed that because he loses at stuff so often, sometimes he just needs a win.” Tracy has watched José fall, and his teammates rush to help him up. She’s watched them treat him like they treat any of their other teammates and said that is what makes the moment so special. “That his entire team enjoyed the moment just as much as he did because they want him to be treated with the same respect they are treated with,” said Tracy.
Tracy said the Miamisburg team was just as excited to participate. “I just wish this was the norm in youth sports and more organizations would be as inclusive as José’s teams have been.”
Tracy said, “We couldn’t have asked for a better community.” José also plays baseball for Kettering.
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