Forum: In praise of student athletes’ character on, off field

Sure, Snohomish High’s football team are ‘big, stinky kids,’ but they have kind, accepting hearts.

By Dana Sue Smith / Herald Forum

Sometimes a person just has to call out people for their behavior, so here I go:

The Snohomish Panther Football team, yep, the entire team, is a gift to our community and especially to my family. My husband, Craig, has been an assistant coach for many years. Even when it is a “building year” he loves this team, year in and year out. He is tough on them, I think that is a simple fact, but they try hard, and they work hard. I love that.

They are also what I like to refer to as “big, stinky kids” and I mean that with a big smile and with all my love, as any mom of these athletes would probably agree. What I am talking about though is the immense kindness and accepting nature they show towards our daughter, Sara. Sara is 27, has Williams syndrome and often goes to practice with Craig. She has a range of challenges including mental retardation, anxiety issues, some physical limitations, etc. The Panthers treat her as if she was a princess, as if she was their favorite little sister. It has brought me to tears more than once.

Imagine you are looking at this giant, growling, fierce football lineman on the field. Roar! And then, as he is getting ready to leave, in a heartbeat that same seriously tough guy is listening to Sara tell him about her two kittens and our dog, Sophie, with rapt attention.

I guess I could name them but then I would have to name all of them because they are all so sweet, so kind, and again, so accepting of a person with a serious disability. I will also add the entire coaching staff, starting with Coach Hammer, to my praise, along with all of the parents who truly care about helping build men and women of value. How cool is that? We are blessed. Go Panthers!

Dana Sue Smith lives in Snohomish.

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