Fan may not be a big enough word to describe William Rose. Teammate might be a better fit. For the last three seasons he has run onto the football field with the team, endured long bus rides and stormed the sidelines yelling encouraging words to the Deerfield-Windsor School Knights
As he roams the sidelines prior to kick off he screams, “Let’s go!” The players slap his shoulder and call him “Main Man” as he runs past.
At age 20, William never played a snap, but his contribution to the Knights is significant.
“They see me and they get fired up. I see them and I get fired up. That is my job, get them focused and fired up, so they can take care of business” he says with pride. “The coaches like me to get on to them and make them work harder.”
As the Knights celebrated at mid-field after their semifinal victory over Pinecrest last week, William ran through the crowd screaming, “One more. One more!” His crutches moved faster than his legs as he wove in and out of players, parents and students. Cerebral palsy robbed William of the opportunity to play, but it doesn’t take away his chance to contribute to the Knights, who will try to defend their GISA AAA state championship Friday at home.
William’s younger brother, star fullback and defensive end Quinton Adkins, is a senior and will play his last game for DWS on Friday night. Next year may find Quinton on a college roster, but William may be a permanent fixture on the sidelines off Stuart Drive.
“He loves it down there,” said Quinton. “He really feels at home and is a part of something.”
“I am not really sure how this all evolved,” said DWS head coach Allen Lowe. “He started coming to watch practice when Quinton started playing, and ever since, he has been a huge inspiration to all of us.”
Now, three years after showing up at his first practice, William has his own locker, jersey, and helmet. His status as the team’s inspirational leader is unchallenged, and he is often heard fussing at and with players about their effort.
“They all really like having him around. If he misses a practice the other players and coaches ask where he is. There is less energy when he is not out there,” said Quinton. “Of course I love having him there because he is my brother, but you can tell the rest of the team feels the same way.”
William is so inner-woven into the fabric of the Knights that the players know not to bend down to help him after one of his many spills down the steps, on the field or in the hall. Hands coming down to lift him bring a growl of, “I can do it!”
After one recent fall, as William fought to successfully lift himself up from the ground a Knight fan walked by, grinned and said, “If everyone on our team has that much heart, we will never lose a game.”
Written by Mike Flynn.