Special needs students suit up with Augie football players


Share
Originally Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2012, 11:02 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2012, 7:58 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Leon Lagerstam llagerstam@qconline.com

ROCK ISLAND Excessive celebration by football players at Augustana College's Ericson Field Thursday couldn't be ignored, but drew no penalties only cheers, laughs and huge smiles.


A dozen students from the Black Hawk Area Education Center were given the chance to suit up in shoulder pads, uniforms and helmets in traditional Augie blue and gold,and try their football throwing and kicking skills.

VIDEO:


Several also tried out their best touchdown dance displays.

''How could you throw any penalty flag on that excessive celebration,'' said Erik Westerberg, 20, an Augustana College junior and Academic All-American, majoring in education and mathematics.

'We made those kids' days,'' said quarterback Nick Welch, 22, a senior secondary education major.

Inviting the special education students to Augie'sfootball stadium was part of a ''performance capstone program,'' related to their education majors, and an emphasis on inclusion models.

Mr. Westerberg and Mr. Welch persuaded 11 teammates to join them and their 12 special visitors.

Kids were given a locker room tour, and spent time being introduced and introducing each other to the college players. Then, they got to try on pads, uniforms and helmets before taking the field.

it was the first time Gerald Carter, 13, ever was on a college football field or visited a college, he said. He had some football experience, playing in Challenger Football games sponsored by the Moline High School football program.

He said his Augieuniform fit well.''I like it, and I like to play football.''

He wasn't alone.

''This is great,'' said Dave Brown, vocational coordinator at the education center. ''All of them have the biggest smiles on their faces.

''This was a unique opportunity for them,'' Mr. Brown said. ''It was exciting to bring them here, because it's an experience they otherwise may never have gotten to enjoy.''

"I'm sure they'll remember this for a long time to come,'' Mr. Welch said.

''It was a very special day for us, too,'' Mr. Westerbergsaid. ''It feels incredible. We feel so blessed."

They handed out key chains to each visiting student that read: "What have you done to win today?"

''And they did win today, and will continue to win even in the circumstances they find themselves in,'' Mr. Westerberg said.

Many touchdowns were scored Thursday, and countless field goals were ruled good, albeit with help from Augie players who scooped up missed kicks and lobbed them through the uprights while cheering on each special-team's kicker.

It was hard sometimes to tell the difference between the college guys and their younger guests, in terms of enthusiasm, energy and touchdown-dance ''skills.''

''That was tight,'' one of the younger students was overheard saying as he left Ericson Field. ''I love this place.''

And his college hosts said they loved all the celebrations he and his friends shared with them Thursday.














 



Local events heading








  Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The female sex seems to have gone crazy on the subject of dry goods. When high prices keep them from increasing their wardrobes, they turn to stealing. Yard goods, hats, shoes and other items are being picked up and carried home.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Members of Everts Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, under Commander H.C. Cleaveland, marched from the Masonic Temple to Trinity Episcopal Church for their annual Easter services.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Nate Hultgren pitched the Augustana College baseball team to a 10-3 victory over Carthage, striking out 11 men and allowing only four hits.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Marvel Leonhardi, a Rock Island High School senior, was the winner of an essay contest on advertising sponsored by The Argus and Advertising Age, a national advertising publication.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Augustana College band drew a crowd of 1,200 people for its annual home concert in Centennial Hall. The size of the crowd was indicative of the fact the band is rapidly approaching the stature of the Augustana Choir.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A benefit to raise money for extracurricular activities in the Rock Island Milan School District will be April 27 at the Quad City Downs harness race track. People buying $17.50 tickets to the second annual "Night at the Quad City Downs" will be entitled to an evening of harness racing and dinner.






(More History)