Special needs students suit up with Augie football players


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Originally Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2012, 11:02 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2012, 7:58 am
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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.

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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.














 



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  Today is Saturday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2014. There are 151 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Because of the National Fast, no paper will be issued from this office tomorrow.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Attracting considerable attention is a sunflower stalk 15 feet high and still growing in the yard of Dr. C. Speidel on 23rd Street in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The municipal bathing beach proposition came up again at the city commission's meeting and a proposition passed, provided that a locker room be constructed at the foot of 7th Street for the accommodation of the bathers.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans for erecting a $14,000 warehouse to replace the frame structure at the rear of the Augustana Book Concern were announced.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Hours for tours of the new Deere & Co. Administrative Center on John Deere Road will be changed, effective Monday.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Tuesday night at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave its fans more than they possibly could have expected. The band took the stage at 9:07 p.m. and didn't leave until 10:40.









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