MADERA, Calif. — The Madera high school varsity football team has a “sidelines specialist” named Kody Coushman. “He gets to do pretty much whatever he wants,” laughed Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli. “But he really just brings an enthusiasm to our team. He brings a happiness to our team.”
The Coyotes have welcomed Kody with open arms. “His positivity just spreads around to one person and then it just spreads to the whole team,” says senior wide receiver Marco Lopez.
“He’s always telling me to be happy,” explains sophomore kicker Richard Lozano. “He always tell me not to be sad, just to cheer up when I’m down or something, he just always tell me to be happy.”
Kody has been diagnosed with Williams Syndrone, it’s a rare genetic disorder that affects cognitive development. However, that hasn’t stopped him from being a normal high school kid. He’s been in a play, he’s involved in Unified soccer, bowling and baseball, and he was also named Homecoming King.
A week after that accomplishment, one of his dreams came true.
Kody had the chance to suit up for the first time in four years. He practiced the entire week leading up to the Bullard game. He finished with one carry for 30 yards and a touchdown.
“You could just see the smile on his face,” explains Paolinelli. “That to me just made it all worth it, to just know how much excitement and how much fun he was having doing that and then obviously getting to celebrate with all of his best friends, every one on the team.”
Kody even has a letterman’s jackets that says “everyone’s best friend.”
“I met him last year,” says Lozano. “I was kicking, and he just came up to me. He was the one who introduced himself, and since then, me and him have been best friends.”
“We all know that I’m really his best friend,” Lopez said jokingly.
The Coyotes only have one more game left in the season and with Kody being a senior, it will be his final game on the sideline as a student. However, there’s one thing for sure… everyone who has met Kody has become a better person because of it.
“I know he’s changed my life,” said Paolinelli. “So hopefully we had some impact on his life too.”
The reason why this special play took place against Bullard and not on Senior Night, is because another one of Kody’s best friend’s is Bullard’s head coach Yosef Fares, the former head coach at Madera.