Kids with autism learn football from their McFarland High role models

MCFARLAND, Wis. (WMTV) -- Some kids with autism say they wait all year for this football camp, a chance to learn from McFarland High School football players.

Saturday morning, the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin hosted its fifth annual football camp. About 30 kids between elementary and high schools attended, learning various techniques at stations.

Mary Fruits first brought the camp to Madison after experiencing the joy it brought to her family in Green Bay.

“We offer the camp for kiddos because they can’t participate in regular football camp or in a football team,” Fruits said. “We want them to have the experience because they will often see their high school idols or watch NFL football, and they want to be out doing the same thing. Because of their unique sensory needs they might not be able to participate on a neurotypical level.”

Her son Clyde, who is on the autism spectrum, said kids do not have many opportunities like this.

“Receiving direct coaching helps me improve my game but also improve learning of football so I can teach other kids who want to play in the future,” he said. “It’s so amazing that these guys are taking some time off of their weekend to be out here and help these kids. It’s just amazing.”

The volunteer football players had a chance to reflect on giving back.

“It motivates me more because some kids don’t have it like I do,” quarterback Jeremiah Price-Johnson said. “Sometimes you’ve got to play for them because they’re watching you.”

After the training session, the participants received medals for participation.