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Dexter Soccer Team Surprises Down Syndrome Student on Senior Night

Greg Zenas, the team's six-year manager, laced up and played half of the game against Adrian on Oct. 5.

By Alex Hardie

On the brand new artificial turf field, the Dexter High School varsity soccer team won 4-0 against the visiting Maples of Adrian on Oct. 5.

The loudest cheers at Dexter’s soccer game Thursday, however, weren’t for the players who scored the four goals. Or for the defenders who kept the ball out of their own end. Or for the goalie who finished with a shutout.

They were for Greg Zenas, a Dexter senior with Down syndrome.

It was Greg’s only game as a player.

Dexter Coach Scott Forrester had been planning for the last several years on how he was going to have Greg start for the team on Senior Night.

“We told him that he had to wear the uniform to be part of the senior introductions before the game,” said Forrester.  “When the 10 minute warm-up time started, I called him over and handed him his turf shoes and shin guards, then told him that he was going to start the game with the other seniors. He looked puzzled for a few seconds, then a smile grew larger and larger on his face.”

As it turned out, Greg got on the field a couple of more times as the game progressed. His team tried their hardest to set him up on scoring chances, but it wasn’t to be. That didn’t matter to Greg. He played for the Dexter Dreadnaughts, a team that he has been a manger of for the last six years.

Nineteen minutes into the game, Jake Kilian got the Dreads on the board when he received a ball and dribbled past five or six Maple defenders to fire a shot past the keeper from 12 yards out. Exactly four minutes later, Kilian received a pass from Andrew Foghel and beat the keep to make it 2-0.

Bobby Toth finished off the scoring with just under nine minutes left in the half. Fourteen minutes into the second half, Nils Valdmanis took a free kick from 25 yards out to score.

Keepers Rhys Moller and Trenton Aeschliman combined for the team’s 10th shut-out of the season. Noticeable absentees due to injuries were Max Amann, Levie Kipke and Thomas Cansfield.

When asked about the game, an emotional Forrester replied, “This team allowed me to give a young man a memory of a life time. I was asked if I would miss Greg after the season is done, and I replied, 'No, I plan on him getting a job in the area and continuing as my manager. If not, yes, I will miss him.'”

Bridget Lane October 10, 2012 at 01:10 PM
As a mom to three young sons with autism, this stoory bring tears to my eyes. Knowing how all parents want their children to be fully accepted by their peers and how this intensifies when you have a special needs child, to be able to see and feel the love of the Dexter Soccer Team for one of their own, even if his skills aren't as perfected, is a true testament to the bonds these young men have created and cultivated. Kudos to the Dexter Soccer coach and all the parents.
Barbara Read October 10, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Hi Bridget, I think you'd enjoy the photo story on ann arbor dot com, too. Beautiful pictures. http://www.annarbor.com/sports/high-school/dexter-soccer-team-surprises-team-manager-who-has-down-syndrome-with-starting-lineup-spot-on-senior/
Don Wyatt (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Anybody shoot photos at the game? Love to see 'em posted to this article on Dexter Patch!
Daniel Lai October 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Thanks for the photos, Chris!

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