Suffering from severe autism didn’t stop Winfred Cooper from scoring on a 67 yard touchdown pass in a JV game between Elgin and Lake Park High Schools in suburban Chicago. “Coop,” as he’s know to his friends, is a senior and had previously not seen much playing time.
According to Jim Davis at the Daily Herald,
“Coop, who has severe autism and doesn’t get to play much, had been lining up as a receiver well off the line of scrimmage. The Lake Park coach noticed, and asked the Elgin coach to give a heads up if they wanted to throw to Coop. They did. Coop caught the ball, and even though the plan had been to push Coop gently out of bounds, the Lake Park players called an audible: Instead, they flailed away in trying to tackle him, while Coop scampered 67 yards for the score. Both sides erupted in cheers.”
The two teams met each other again over the weekend. Coop had the opportunity to go over and thank the opposing Lake Park Coach Nana Agyeman, who had the idea that Coop should have the opportunity to score a touchdown. After Cooper thanked the coach, he raised his finger high to the Lake Park fans indicating a Number 1. The crowd gave him a loud ovation and chanted his name as he returned to his sideline.
For a couple of nights and maybe more, both sides and the fans were reminded that there’s more to the game than just the wins and losses.