Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Special Olympics Team Schuylkill Flag Football Continues to Make Impossible Possible

During the first weekend in November, the Special Olympics Team Schuylkill Flag Football team took part in Villanova University's Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival.

On the weekend of November 5th and 6th, the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival was hosted and organized by Villanova University and its students and is the largest annual student-run Special Olympics event in the world.

Schuylkill County's own Team Schuylkill Flag Football Team competed with teams from Clinton County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Northampton County, and Chester County. These other teams have all been playing flag football for several years, this is the first year for Team Schuylkill and its flag football program.

Team Schuylkill played a total of 4 games on the first day of tournament.  They made some incredible plays that defied the odds. Schuylkill was seeded in the highest division after a great preliminary performance they had a lot of magical moments.

Team member Joey Ebling tells us “I Loved playing in front of big crowd. It felt amazing! I felt like a superhero especially when I break away from the pack. I had no doubt at all we were coming back to win and put on a show! I like the play double tap which is a reverse to me on the back side! Once I get the speed going it's over!! The Championship game.... we earned that, we worked so hard for it! Glad we made it there. I'm so proud."

Team Member Liam felt the same way about the experience “Love the tournament, such a fun challenge, never had a doubt we would be on the podium at the end. The Large crowd made me feel recognized. Loved the college atmosphere! I believe being in Villanova's gym made me feel like a champion and set the tone for the rest of the weekend! I loved the play Superman it's a play for me to get loose!"

Now to the Special Olympic State tournament. After falling behind To Chester County 18-0 at halftime, Head Coach Jordan Green huddled his team up and continued his motto "make the impossible possible". He stressed that the half was over and they need to forget about it and trust our teammates and go out and have fun and good things will happen.

After big plays by Joey Ebling, Kevin Boris, Trystan Fessler and Juilianna Kozack, Schuylkill hit the ground running and cut the deficit to 3 points.

Inside The Huddle

With just five seconds left from the 50-yard line, Team Schuylkill had one play to try to heave it to the end zone for a miracle and pray for the best. 

Coach Green told Andrew Shaw, Team Schuylkill’s quarterback, “Can you get it to the End zone?” “He said yes I can”. Green asked Trystan Fessler who is one of Schuylkill’s best wide receivers, “if he gets it there, can you make the catch.” Trystan enthusiastically responded, “yes coach”. 

Coach Green looked into his eyes and asked a well-known question that is used every time they break huddle. “When has impossible ever stopped you?”.  They team emphatically said “never”

On the final play, Team Schuylkill’s Andrew Shaw threw a deep ball to Fessler in the left corner of the end zone for a walk off win! The team began to pile on each other in excitement and also mimicked making snow angels in the end zone!

Fessler said “Never had a doubt, we believed from the moment we stepped off the bus. I was open pretty much 24-7 all tournament especially on Hail Mary. I kept running and watched it into my hands, it seemed like the ball was in slow motion. When I made the catch, I pointed to my coach that passed away in heaven. I wanted to make him proud. It felt amazing when my teammates joined me in end zone.”

Coach Green said, “I have watched a lot of sports in his life and never had emotions pour out quite like this!  This was something out of a movie! The team was down big in first half and never quit even though it seemed impossible. I love these kids with all my heart and am so proud to be their coach!”

Shaw said of the sequence “When Coach Jordan put the call in huddle for the Hail Mary I felt numbness, when I I took the snap I used my quick feet and I bought time by scrambling to left, It felt good when it left out of hand. I knew I can trust Trystan, he is my go to guy I threw the ball extra high and knew he was going to catch it! I loved making it to championship finals and making new friends! But so happy to make the stage at the end!"

This advanced Team Schuylkill to the semifinal round on Sunday where they would go on to win the semifinals and shock the whole Villanova crowd and get the opportunity to play for the Special Olympic state championship.

Schuylkill ended up taking home the silver medal as they came up a touch down shy. This was no easy feat as Team Schuylkill flag football did not exist until this summer. 

Coach Jordan said "The other teams had years of experience, so it truly is a testament of dedication and hard work for all those involved. Green says, Next year we want the gold! We will continue with great sportsmanship and carrying ourselves as champions regardless of the outcome.

“All of the athletes are extremely proud of what they have done! They showed incredible sportsmanship and congratulated Clinton County on their gold with hugs and Joy.” These are memories that will last a lifetime for team Schuylkill as Liam Burns mentioned he had a great time with coaches and his amazing hotel room “I also enjoyed doing Mickey Mouse impersonations with Coach Jordan who impersonated Goofy! Also loved I had my own room at hotel I felt like a king!”

Team members Kevin Boris and Julianna Kosack also described some of their favorite moments of the tournament weekend in Villanova. Boris tells us “The Villanova experience was really fun especially the comeback win I never had doubt we would do it, especially when we ran 2 of my favorite plays Cobra and SHAQ! Cobra is a play where I am the quarterback and I throw a jump ball to Trystan! When I put it up for Trystan, he and the defender both had their hands on it and both players wouldn’t let it go. It looked like two Pitt bulls fighting over a piece of meat.

Another fun Villanova moment is when the ball was handed off to me, I yelled bye bye and waved to the crowd before I ran it to the house!”

Kosack stated “The Silver medal feels great and making the gold medal game was awesome!  I started out with 3 sacks, when you open up the gates then in comes the Beast! And I'm the Beast! I enjoyed Villanova I was able to hang with friends, loved running together, it was a little muggy on day one but still pulled it out!"

"Because even when the grass is wet, Slippery doesn't stop tanks!" she said.

Green added “This is what it’s all about, having fun making new friends and enjoying the moment! When Rooted Together, We Grow Even Better! When it comes to team Schuylkill, we together as a team and community will continue to make the impossible possible!"

This coming weekend, on Saturday, the Team will play Monroe County's team at Team Schuylkill's Family Fun Day being held at Penn State Schuylkill's Auxiliary Field in Schuylkill Haven at 10:00am.

Along with the football game, Disney Characters will attend including Mickey Mouse, Elsa, Ahna, Moana, Buzz Lightyear, and more.

Proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics PA Team Schuylkill athletes!
Purchase tickets here: