Scott Newport and his son Noah believe that every play matters because of an important lesson learned from Evan, Scott's son with special needs.

Fall is here. For children all over the country that means football season. Except for children with special needs. Unless those children have siblings like Noah Newport, brother of Evan who was born with a heart condition called Noonan’s Syndrome. In today’s post, guest blogger Scott Newport (also dad to Noah and Evan) relates a touching tale about his older son’s act of compassion toward his little brother who died just a few months later.

Every Play Matters

This past Saturday afternoon I was visiting Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan and spending time with a father. Bobby is from Ohio, and his newborn daughter, Mia, has been struggling with a serious heart condition for almost six months. While sitting by his daughter’s bed, we talked.

Between him administering meds through a tiny tube and listening to the annoying, beeping monitors, and changing diapers he talked about his younger days. As he paused for a moment and started to put his large hand to his chin, I said, “My son Noah is starting football practice on Monday. Did you ever play?”

Turning toward me as though I should know, he said, “I was the quarterback.” He then went on to reminisce. “Scott, I’ll never forget the time I was knocked silly on one play and had to sit out. At halftime we were behind and the coached asked if I was ready to go back in for another play. I still don’t remember that half but after the game I found out I had run over two hundred yards and we had won.”

Driving home I couldn’t help but think about Bobby and his family and how they are enduring this tough time in their life, one day at a time, one moment at a time. I thought, as soon as I get home I am going to tell Noah that when he starts football on Monday, every play matters. I am taking Every Play Matters as my mission statement for this year.

You see, I really believe the things we learn when we are young will last a lifetime. I have always loved our Royal Oak Chiefs football program. There is nothing like going to a practice and seeing over 100 kids from ages seven to fourteen scattered out on a field and the numerous committed coaches teaching. The team colors are red and yellow and have always been a symbol of a burning flame—for me, a seemingly inextinguishable fire.

Like Bobby, Noah and I spent months up at Mott hospital. We were there with Evan—my younger son and Noah’s little brother—when he was just a newborn. He also had a serious heart condition.

When Evan was seven, Noah asked the coach at the last practice of the season, “Coach, can Evan come in for one play?” After Noah signed to me I pushed Evan up to the scrimmage line and he got his chance, his one play. About a month after that, Evan died. During that cold winter, I spent many moments wondering if Noah would still be a Chief.

I love the Chiefs program and all it has done for our family. The team has taught Noah about commitment and me a little more about life and the challenges that come our way. I guess stories like the one about Bobby and his strength are nothing new to teams that already understand that every play matters.

Maybe I don’t even have to tell Noah. I’m guessing now he probably already knows.

When Has Every Play Matters Been Your Mission Statement?

Can you think of a time when Every Play Matters has been your mission statement? Scott would love to hear about it, so leave a comment if you like.

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