Senior night is an important occasion for high school football players all across the country. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work. For Sepp Shirey of Mechanicsville, Virginia, Friday’s senior night at Atlee High School was a lifelong dream fulfilled.
Shirey lives with cerebral palsy, but his condition has never stopped him from dreaming of playing high school football.
“It’s something I can remember from my earliest time being a part of,” explains Shirey. “It’s something that in my life, right now, I enjoy more than anything.”
Naturally, it took Shirey’s mom some time to come around on the idea. But all of Shirey’s doctors cleared him to play, and Atlee head coach Matt Gray has embraced Shirey being part of the team during his high school career.
“I said, I know there may be things that you may not be physically able to do,” Gray recalls. “But I think your presence here, I think a lot of guys are going to appreciate that.”
On Friday, Shirey lived out his dream. He began the game lined up as a running back and took the handoff from his quarterback. Initially, nerves got to him and he tripped in the backfield. But on the very next play, he took the handoff and ran 80 yards to the end zone, surrounded by a convoy of players from both teams.
At the end of the 80-yeard run, Shirey collapsed into the end zone. But by scoring a touchdown, he proved to everyone, especially those with disabilities, that no dream is impossible, no matter what the obstacle.
With his dream of playing high school football accomplished, Shirey will soon set his sights on attending the University of Alabama, where he’ll major in sports journalism. He’s also hoping to becoming involved with the top-ranked college football program in the country in some capacity.