Blind Player Is Inspiration to Teammates, Coaches

Gage Dannecker, 11, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, had been asking his mom for about three years to play youth football after listening time and again how much fun his friends were having playing the sport. This year, after all the begging and pleading, his mom, Melissa Hein, finally said yes.


“My favorite position on the football team is nose tackle,” Gage said. “When you’re in that position on defense, you’re able to chase and tackle the guy with the ball.”


He enjoys shedding blocks and making plays. But unlike other youth football players across the nation, Gage is presented with another challenge on every snap.


He is blind.


Michael Rhodes, coach of the Bulldogs, was a little hesitant because he wasn’t sure about Gage’s limitations on the field. Not only did Gage change coach Rhodes’ perspective, but by showing dedication and effort in practice every day, he changed his teammates’ as well.


“The other kids were a little apprehensive,’” Rhodes said. “But as he was blocking them off, shedding their blocks and getting to where he needed to be, they learned along the way that he was here to stay and wasn’t just some stunt to throw a kid in a uniform and see if he would be able to stand on the sideline.


“The biggest key is Gage wanted to learn how to play football, and the kids realized that if this guy can do it, then there is no reason they can’t use the same effort and try to achieve the same goals as Gage.”



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