A recent high school wrestling match didn’t get a lot of attention but it should have. A state champion was up against a first time wrestler; a young man who has fought hard to just get on his team. When the match was over, everyone was a winner.
Wakefield High sophomore Danny Gill has Down syndrome. All season long his coach has been trying to find him a match.
“We wanted to get him a match one way or another,” Wakefield Wrestling Coach Ross Ickes said. “We had to find the right kid that could roll with him.”
Steven Giampapa from Burlington, a state champ, was his first match.
“My coaches told me about it the day before so I knew everything going into the match,” said Giampapa.
Danny got the chance to experience what it’s like to wrestle; the referee, the crowd cheering, his parents of course cheering the loudest.“I was just so excited for Dan,” his mother Lauren said. “I was very proud of him, he was very proud of himself.”
“This kid from Burlington, Steven, made him feel on the top of the world at that moment that night,” said Danny’s father Kevin.
“At one point in the video he does turn to me to give me thumbs up during the wrestling match,” said Lauren.
The young champion from Burlington did something to make Danny feel what he’s felt: what it’s like to win.
“Beating another man on the mat like that, there is no better feeling than that and he got to feel that,” Giampapa said. “That’s what made me happy.”
The crowd from both sides were on their feet cheering for Danny. His mom and others were crying because this night, he won his match with a little help from everyone.
Did Danny have fun? “Yes I did.”
Was it a tough match? “Yes it was a riot.”
Danny says he has big plans for next year. He’s going to continue to train hard and says he’ll be even tougher.