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DEXTER, Mich. — For the first time in his life Thursday night, Greg Zenas laced up his cleats and ran onto a soccer field.
Zenas, who has been the team manager for the Dexter High School Deadnaughts for six years, has Down syndrome, and his team's coach said he has been scheming for the past couple of years to get Zenas on the field during the school's senior night this year.
"We told him that he had to wear the uniform to be part of the senior introductions before the game," Scott Forrester told Michigan Live. "When the ten minute warm-up time started, I called him over and handed him his turf shoes and shin guards, then told him that he was going to start the game with the other seniors. He looked puzzled for a few seconds, then a smile grew larger and larger on his face."
Zenas, wearing No. 17, played about half the game and had a few touches, according to AnnArbor.com.
The team was ahead early in the game and tried to set up Zenas for a score, but could not do so, the website reported. Regardless, Zenas was all smiles.
"He feels like he's one of them," his mom, Julie Zenas, said "He has for the last six years, but I think it's the sense of accomplishment, of being out there."
Zenas' parents said the hero of the night was Forrester, who made Zenas a student manager of the team when he was in seventh grade. Forrester was happy to be able to give Zenas the memory of a lifetime.
"I was asked if I would miss Greg after the season is done, and I replied, 'No, I plan on him getting a job in the area and continuing as my manager. If not, yes, I will miss him,'" Forrester told the Patch Network.