During week 5 of high school football on the Central Coast, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez High School came together to play on the same side. They showed true sportsmanship and dedication to make a special dream come true for Pirates’ team manager, Alec Watson.
In 2006, Brigham Young University football was on its final play against the University of Utah. Time had expired, and quarterback John Beck scrambled frantically before finding a wide open pass to Jonny Harline to win the game. Some would call that BYU Cougars’ play a miracle.
That single play was also the very beginning of Alec’s love for football. He was born with a congenital heart defect called, Tetralogy of Fallot preventing him from playing sports. Alec underwent two open-heart surgeries before reaching age one. Not only that, his parents can’t say how many blood transfusions he’s received because they stopped counting at 70.
Alec’s parents met at BYU and some would say, his birth and surviving life-battling challenges a miracle.
Although Alec cannot play, he’s very much a part of the Santa Ynez Pirates football program. He’s been the team manager for nearly three years. Last Friday, he received another miracle. Alec padded up for the first time in his life to run the first play of the game.
"It felt really great. I’ve been waiting for years to pad up and play," Alec said. "It felt really great. I got to break the huddles all week. It was really good support from the Valley and especially Santa Maria. I like to thank Santa Maria and the coaching staff for the help."
Pirates’ head coach Josh McClurg had been trying to make this come to life since last season.
"I give credit to Dan Ellington (Santa Maria’s head coach) and his staff first and foremost for going along and setting up the run for Alec Watson," McClurg said. "Dan’s a class guy and that shows a lot of character by (Santa Maria’s Jonathon) Ramos as well, the way he handled it and made the tackle."
Fittingly, the play was called the BYU Cougar Play, a miracle moment Alec got to call his very own.
To make the play come full circle, the gloves Alec was wearing during the Cougar Play was given to him by former running back, Jamaal Williams.
"Him running on the field and getting six yards was priceless. We couldn’t ask for better.. the love from the coaches, seeing him practice all week, and the team coming around to help him, it was great," said Matthew Watson, Alec’s father.
"It’s so emotional to see so many people love your kid and support them and for their dreams to come true in a way that brings the whole community together," said Leanna Watson, Alec’s mother.