OAKVILLE, Mo. - Gunnar Williams has always wanted to play football. That dream came true on homecoming night as the Oakville High School senior was able to put on a Tiger’s jersey, step on the field, and score an honorary touchdown during the big game.
Gunnar has been serving as the student manager of the team for three years. The coaches and players describe him as a goofy, fun loving guy that brings a lot of energy and inspiration to the team. His physical limitations may have prevented him from playing the actual sport, but that didn’t stop him from finding a way to become a part of the Tiger football family.
Head Coach Arlee Conners said, “Gunnar comes out here every day with a great attitude! He brings inspiration to these guys. It's easy for us to take things for granted. Then we see a guy like Gunnar who wants to be out on the field so badly but can’t. It helps these other guys understand that not everyone gets the opportunity to play.”
On top of making sure that the players are hydrated and playing hard, Gunnar is known to uplift the team with a good pep talk and some sweet dance moves before games.
“Gunnar has made a big impact on the team,” said senior quarterback and team captain Hunter Iffland. “We haven’t had the best season, but we’ll be in the locker room and Gunnar always finds a way to cheer us up. He will come in and put a smile on all of our faces which is really neat because not a lot of teams get to experience that.”
Watching practice I was able to see Gunnar interact with the players. There were a lot of jokes and a lot of laughs. They all seemed very comfortable with one another. Assistant Coach Kyle Bryant feels that Gunnar’s presence has made a positive impact on these young men.
“Having our kids be able to work with a student like Gunnar in a high school setting, especially on a football team, helps these guys start acting less like teenagers and more like adults. He’s a really good kid and there are not many kids like Gunnar,” said Coach Bryant.
Gunner is a friendly reminder to us all that the power of sport goes far beyond the competition. Watch his special moment here.