There’s no telling where a football team will gather its strength from, but at Franklin College, the source is loud and clear. It’s 19-year-old general manager and coach Emry Himes.
Himes was born with Down syndrome, but Franklin College, a Division III school in Indiana, was in need of his talents.
He studies public relations at the college and graduated from the INSPIRE (Individual Needs in Special Plans to Increase Relevant Work Experience) program in May, which assists students with disabilities so they can live independently and unsupervised on campus.
That’s where Himes first met head football coach Mike Leonard. They began spending time together and Leonard invited Himes to join his football staff as a volunteer coach and GM.
“I said, ‘Emry, you’re not really a coach,’ and he kind of looked at me funny,” Leonard told The Franklin. “I said, ‘You’re the GM,’ and he kind of looked at me and said, ‘GM — great man. I like that.’”
Among his responsibilities are injecting life into the team and keeping everyone positive.
“I get them prepared through my heart,” Himes said.
— WTIU News (@wtiunews) August 31, 2018
Leonard brought Himes on board to teach his football team that life is about so much more than sports. It’s about relationships.
“I know it’s great for our guys as well,” Leonard told WFYI. “This is more of a selfish thing. As opposed to us helping him out, this is more about him helping us out.”
And, it’s working. Lineman Austin Woiteshek has learned something much more valuable than X’s and O’s. He’s learned about character from Himes.
“Emry is an exact replica of what I want to be from an attitude perspective,” Woiteshek said. “The love he has for us, we give it right back to him.”
Prior to attending Franklin College, Himes played high school basketball for the Central Catholic CYO league and participated on his school’s first ever unified track team, according to 21 Dreams Project. He also played golf with his brother in the Unified Special Olympics.
So as a former athlete, Himes understands competition at its finest. And as a one-of-a-kind coach, he’s a true anchor for a team that completely adores him.