By Jared Felkins

By Angie Mayes

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
West Wilson and Walter J. Baird players cheer for Aiden Atkins (80) as he heads toward the goal line last Tuesday night to score the first touchdown of the ball game.

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A magical moment during the West Wilson Middle School football game last Tuesday night brought people to their feet and tears to their eyes.

That’s when Aiden Atkins, the team manager, entered the game and ran the first touchdown of the evening. The moment was unique because Atkins has a muscular disease.

The moment was the brainchild of head coach Naz Roseberry. He knew Atkins has a dream of playing sports, but, because the disease that affects his leg muscles, he was unable to be a part of a team as a player. Instead, he joined the team as the manager.

“Aiden has been a manager for me for two years,” Roseberry said. “It’s kind of been a conversation of ours that kind of became real this year. I saw the opportunity to do it. I thought it would be a special moment for him.”

Roseberry admitted, while the moment was special to Atkins, it was also a high point in his career.

“The moment was special for him, but it was probably more special for me and the school,” he said. 

Roseberry said West Wilson’s opponent, Walter J. Baird Middle School, was more than happy to help. 

“I called them, and their coach was very open and said, ‘anything we need.’ They wanted to be a part of this special moment, too,” Roseberry said. “He felt like this would be a good teaching moment for his guys, as well.”

Atkins said the touchdown was, “a very surreal moment for me. I was very in the moment. I really didn’t have a concept of this. I just went along with what was going on, and it happened. Coach told me I was going to run it in. I only had an hour to prepare.”

He said he prepared mentally and “through Christ. I have a good relationship with Christ, and that helps with mentally preparing myself.”

Atkins’ dad, Alan, and mom, Michelle, were in the stands. Atkins’ dad said he was proud of his son.

“This was a wonderful experience,” Alan Atkins said. “He came home saying it was a lot of fun. Of course, winning [the game] helps.”

Alan Atkins said it wasn’t hard to keep the secret. His son knew he was going to dress out. 

“He was not fully expecting to do what he did,” Alan Atkins said. “It was something very special for us and him. He loves the team and feels like he’s contributing something by being their manager. The team also appreciates what he does for them.”

His parents were gracious to Roseberry for planning the event.

“I want to thank [Roseberry],” Alan Atkins said, who added the family “thinks the world of him. We were so excited to be able to experience that with him.”

Aiden Atkins said he’s always wanted to play a sport, but was never able to due to his condition. 

“This is one opportunity that I’ll never forget,” he said.