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McFarland football team manager with dwarfism gets big play

Beloit Turner coach surprises McFarland team with act of sportsmanship

McFarland football team manager with dwarfism gets big play

MCFARLAND, Wis. - For five years, Jared Green has been on the sidelines during McFarland High School football games working as the team manager.

He started in that role in eighth grade when his older brother played for the team.

While Jared wanted to play football, dwarfism prevented him from doing so.

"Since I couldn't play football because of health reasons I wanted to be involved in at least some way," Jared said.

His dedication over five years did not go unnoticed by the players and coaches on the team.

"I don't think I've ever been to a practice where he has not been there," said Liam Keeley, a senior on the football team.

Because Jared's teammates understood just how much he wanted to be part of a game, several of the seniors on the team decided to ask head coach Paul Ackley if he could wear a uniform for the team's final game of the season.

"Just as a group we kind of came up with the idea that it would be pretty cool for Jared to get in because that's all he's ever really wanted from the football team,"  Keeley said.

Ackley asked Jared if that's what he wanted to do and also checked with his parents. When they said yes, Ackley decided to let Jared be part of the final home game.

"I did let him know that really under no circumstances would I put him into the game other than maybe to take a knee and he would be the furthest guy back," Ackley said.

During that final game, Jared stood on the sidelines wearing his No. 2 jersey, waiting and hoping a situation would arise that would allow him to get on the field at the end of the game. When McFarland went on offense with less than a minute in the game and leading by a score of 28-6, Jared got his moment.

"We put him in and we take a knee, and all of a sudden the opposing coach was yelling across the field at me -- 'Run a play, run a play,'" Ackley said.

With time running out in the game, Ackley called time out and walked out on the field to talk with Derek Diehl, the Beloit Turner head coach.

"I motioned him over to the middle of the field and we met kind of in the middle of the field and I said, 'Derek what are you saying?' And he says, 'Give the ball to No. 2," Ackley said.

Assured that Jared would not get hit, Ackley went back to his team's huddle and called a run play for Jared.

"So I brought the team over and looked at Jared and the kids were excited," Ackley said.

With time running out, the handoff went to Jared and he ran right and into the end zone.

"I dreamed of it. I never thought it would actually happen," Jared said. "It was probably the happiest I've ever felt in my entire life."

The act of sportsmanship by Beloit Turner's coach and players is not lost on the McFarland team.

"Derek Diehl simply was a class act and I'm very appreciative of his sportsmanship and his willingness to see the big picture of sports and not worry so much about a score on a scoreboard," Ackley said.

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