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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A high school football player with Down syndrome is being offered the chance of a lifetime.

Brett Bowden has led the Hobbton Wildcats onto the field religiously for two seasons, even scoring a touchdown in a game. But on Friday night, his helmet sits on a bench and his shoulder pads are put away.

“That’s all he knows,” said Pat Bowden, Brett’s mother. “That’s all he’s ever done. And to take that away? It’s different. It’s like he’s not a player anymore.”

Bowden will be a junior this year at Hobbton High School in Sampson County , but he will not be able to play this season, because at 19, he is too old.

James terry, coach of the arena football team, the Reno Barons, saw Bowden’s story online. He says it really upset him and wants to give Bowden a chance to be a part of his team.

“The only qualifications in pro football is that you are 18 years of age or older,” Reno Baron head coach James Terry said. “We’re going to sign him. We’ll sign him to a pro football, professional football contract to play at our level which is about AAA.”

The Sampson County School District announced yesterday Brett can still dress out and lead the team onto the field, but he will not be allowed to play.

Terry says he wants to give Brett a chance to be a part of his team.

“I have a real opportunity here in the position that I am in football to help somebody who loves the game as much as I do, to really help a family and a young man who can get more from this than I ever did,” Terry said. “I played professionally and collegiately, and I envy this kid, because I think he gets more out of being part of this team than any of us could possibly imagine.”

Pat Bowden says she could not believe terry’s offer.

“To even offer that from a little town that we’re from, just a little tiny hole,” said Pat Bowden. “I mean words can’t describe it.”

Brett’s story has garnered some major attention. A Facebook page that his sister helped organize now has more than 60,000 fans. However, Brett doesn’t seem to care about the attention. He wants nothing more than to be a Wildcat.


Comment on this Story

  • Mike Huey

    I have known Jim since he was a child. He has done more good for more people than anyone will ever know.

  • ellan8912

    Great to see a coach at the pro level would think enough to do something like this. God bless this young man and God bless coach Terry. I would buy a ticket in a minute to see this. Great story!

  • Eric7555

    More on this story and a follow up that I saw no where els on JimTerryFootball.com

  • Chris

    When I read this story it brought a tear to my eyes. Tears of joy to realize how happy Mr Terry must have made this young man and his family. Continued success to all.

  • Aden

    This is such a sweet story. I hope he can go with the pro team at some point but I would like to see him finish high school. Also, I would like to say that the rest of his high school football team obviously considers him one of the team and I think they are a great group of young men to include him. This is just a feel good story all around. Have a wonderful season!!

  • Allon Barker

    You have no clue about the life style Brett has. This young man’s heart is bigger than you can imagine. He will never have the opportunities you will, but just wants to be a part of HIS team. You would be hard pressed to fine any other student athelete with the desire this young man has. Words hurt so think before you speak!

  • Mt

    Great story about one of the best indoor players of all time.

  • Brendan

    Coach Terry is the Greatest

  • Dan C

    I met Jim when we were in High School He always stood out in the crowed. He was always a positive influence on me and most people he met. Keep up the good work Jim . Dan.

  • Bob Stevens

    I met Jim about two years ago while he was in Vegas. What an interesting young man. what an interesting career .

  • Connie Mac

    When I read this story it brought a tear to my eyes. Tears of joy to realize how happy Mr Terry must have made this young man and his family. Continued success to all.

  • Lacresha Williams

    I want everyone to know that Jim Terry helped place my son in a college football program. He has several programs that he recruits for and who rely on his knowledge to find college football players. Contact him if you have need to place your child in a college football program. I had no idea how to do it so Jim was sent from heaven to me.

  • Dennis Kang

    Many high school coaches could learn from Jim Terry.

  • JET

    Everyday there are situations in sports that can create a memory for some individual that he or she will remember all of their life. It takes the vision of a coach and leader like Jim Terry to see this. There are more ways to win than just the score board. It is athletes like Jim Terry that know just how to do this.

  • Devlin Culliver

    I read in another sports blog that Jim Terry was interviewed by several other news outlets after the story and said he was contacted by one of the coaches on the team and told that his offer was taking away fom the teams season and other players. At the time it seemed Terry was playing Arena Football in Pa some place. Hope that helps…

  • Eric2233

    Would love to know the rest of how the story ended up…..

  • Eddie Perro

    I googled Terry as well and saw several stories just like this one. Not enough write ups like this in sports.

  • Eris Sellers

    I was so happy to read a story like this Jim Terry is also a 12 year vet of indoor and arena football. He is by far a clas act.

  • 1981duke

    A coach with unique perspective and courage,caring.
    A good coach can elevate any player to “their” next level.
    Not about winning but improving,trying and Life needed skills of determination and perseverance.

  • Tony Carlicemo

    Thanks Jim for all the help you gave my son three years ago jhe is entering his senior year at college and will get his BSBA. I cannot help but think how much you were a part of his success of and on he field. Regards Tony C

  • Kane V.

    I have a son with the same needs and its good to see that a coach (James Terry) from another part of the country would step up to help this high school student smile.

  • Stu

    This is the type of person and story we need to see more of. Jim Terry is a great person for thinking of a way to make this young man happy.

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