The final night of high school football’s regular season means the last football game of their career for many seniors.
Senior night at Lampeter-Strasburg high school will not soon be forgotten –that’s because senior Nathan Hershey is no ordinary senior for the Pioneers.
His nickname is “Coach”. He’s at every practice. He’s at every game. Nathan has Down syndrome, but trust me when I say he does everything to lift up the spirits of his team.
Friday night he was in full pads for the opening kickoff against Conestoga Valley.
Lampeter-Strasburg Head Coach John Manion arranged a special kickoff for “Coach” versus the Buckskins. Wearing number 12 Nathan took the field waving to a roaring crowd. It was an onsides kick recovered by CV’s Brendan Martin. Nathan tackles Martin and the stands erupt to thunderous applause with his proud parents joining the crowd in a standing ovation.
“I asked him if he ever wanted to play for one play.” Says Coach Manion, “I thought he would naturally know that meant he would kick because he did that for us all the time. He looked at me and said, his words were, yeah, I want to sack a quarterback.”
“Coach” didn’t sack a quarterback, but he did fire up the team in the locker room and of course number 12 led the Pioneers onto the field. It was a busy night for Nathan filled with lots of hugs as he headed up to the student section after his big moment.
We’ve seen other games where teams will allow a player to take the ball and score a touchdown, but this was definitely unique and credit goes to Coach Manion and to Conestoga Valley’s coaches and players for taking part.
Later this month we’ll have much more on “Coach” Hershey and tonight’s inspirational moment.