Dean to play on Blue-Gold football game
On Saturday, June 23, Indian River High School Senior Tyler Dean will be returning to the football field for one last game of his high-school career.
Dean was nominated and selected to play in the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities (DFRC) 57th Annual Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game at the University of Delaware.
“It’s kind of like the All-Star game for high-school football. Players who excelled on the field, did well in the classroom and throughout the community,” explained Dean. “I was put up by my coaches and principal as a candidate for the team, and they picked me.”
DFRC is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise funds and awareness support of programs that enrich the lives of Delawareans with intellectual disabilities.
The Blue-Gold game gives high-school students the chance to raise awareness of Delawareans with intellectual disabilities with their peers in school.
For the football game itself, only high-school seniors may play. However, there are band members, cheerleaders and color-guard students who participate from their freshman year to senior year.
“It is a new experience. There’s only a select few people who get picked for the Blue-Gold game, and, luckily, I’ll be one of the players from Indian River that gets to represent my school,” said Dean.” In years past, I’ve heard other teammates say the Blue-Gold game was a great experience. You get to throw on the pads one more time. Most kids, after we won the State championship, they’re never going to play again. But I get one more game to go out there and end my high-school career.”
Blue-Gold is not only about a football game, though. Many student participants are paired up with children and young adults, and are called the Hand-in-Hand Buddies.
Dean, whose buddy Rose is 6 years old, said he was excited to have the chance to participate in the game and spend time mentoring.
“Basically, you get to go and meet someone, get to enrich their life,” he said. “They get to meet a high-school athlete. Especially for someone like Rose, who also likes to play sports, you get to meet an older person, a mentor, make a friend and enjoy moments.”
Dean and his buddy Rose will spend the next few months hanging out and participating in various DFRC-sponsored events for athletes and their buddies.
“We have activities every other weekend… we’ll have a bowling party or a picnic out somewhere. The Gold team will come together with their buddies and have a play-day or something like that. I’ve gone over to her house a couple of times and been able to hang out with her. We’ve played soccer and stuff like that.”
When it comes to the day of the game, Dean said that Rose will be in attendance to cheer him on.
“We have a parade before the game, where you get to walk with your buddy,” he explained. “When it comes to the actual Blue-Gold game, when they call my name and I’m walking out onto the field, Rose is going to escort me.”
Dean said that the experience is certainly an enriching one, not only for him as an athlete but as a person.
“You get to connect to a younger person who kind of looks up to you. They want to follow your footsteps, in a way. That touches your life. It’s someone who cares about you, who you can mess around with. They love the whole football, the activities and getting to do something like this.”
Dean added that he is excited to be able to represent Indian River and play football one more time.
“I’m kind of excited to be able to go out on the field one more time, to be able to represent my school,” he said. “It’s nice to know I’ll have fans behind me who are going to come up and watch the game and want to participate in it. I’m really excited and thrilled to be able to go up there and participate.”
For more information about DFRC or the Blue-Gold football game, visit www.blue-gold.org.