Rockwall football finds inspiration from classmate

Rockwall was in a tightly-contested playoff battle with Sachse.  After a nerve-wracking halftime, knowing their season is on the line, the Yellowjackets confidently ran onto the field, led by Chase Wood. And by knowing his story, you'll know why Rockwall gives him his frontrow seat.

Chase was born with Down syndrome, but his mom made a decision about raising him.

“We never treat Chase any differently,” said his mother, Sandie. “We still want the best for him and he has to strive. In his vocabulary we never tell him he "can't do it".

To be a member of the family, he had to play sports. Basketball was one of his loves and in middle school, it helped him make friends.

“We played basketball and he was so competitive, knocking kids on the ground, shooting 3's, all-around athlete,” said Rockwall receiver Cole Talley. 

“Throwing up 3's and halfcourt shots, 2nd or 3rd try and makes it, does the LeBron dance, got so excited, loves being a part of sports,” added linebacker Alston Orji.

Chase also wanted to play football, and he became a varsity Yellowjacket, with a little help along the way.

Shelby Cauley is a friend of Chase’s and a senior at Rockwall. “I make sure no one's going to cause him trouble, and make sure he has fun. “It gives him a positive atmosphere to be a dude!”

Chase does what practicing he can but he also provides much-needed energy for the grueling parts of the week.

“People ask why I hang out with him? He's nothing different, he's a human being,” said Orji. “Are you joking with him? I'm not messing with him, he's a friend of mine.”

Senior night would become a reward for all of Chase's hard work. During a blowout win, Coach Rodney Webb made the decision to put Chase into the game.

“Everyone goes crazy,” said Talley. “It was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. You see those things on Facebook, but in real life, that's awesome. We've known him for so long, he's such a good kid. He's been wanting to do that for so long.”

Chase’s mom was grateful for all the support.

“I got really emotional, it was amazing, he was accepted. I would never change it. It's something I'll remember forever. I wrote a letter, just thanking them for accepting Chase, accepting him for who he is.”

Safe to say Chase will never forget his game, but he wanted something else, something he couldn't do on his own. He wanted his teammates, who made him feel so welcomed for so long, to win a trophy.

After an upset win in the first round of the playoffs, Rockwall took Sachse to overtime. It came down to a 4th and goal from the one to extend the game. For the Yellowjackets, this dream ending wasn't to be.

As heartbroken as Rockwall was, the man keeping heads held high and spirits up was Chase.

His football career may be over, but his impact will live on forever.

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