Scorpions to host special-needs athlete who couldn't wear varsity jacket

Michael Kelley to sign contract with Scorpions on Saturday, team says

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Scorpions will host a 19-year-old student athlete with Down syndrome and autism who was not allowed to wear a school varsity letter jacket because he's not a varsity player.

The team said Michael Kelley, of Wichita, Kan., will be a special guest of the North American Soccer League Champion San Antonio Scorpions and Soccer for a Cause on Saturday.

Soccer for a Cause invited Kelley and his family so they can attend the Scorpions' 2015 NASL opener at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Field against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the team said.

Kelley will sign a NASL Standard Players contract making him a San Antonio Scorpion, and will be in uniform and sit with the team on the Scorpions bench to have a close-up view of the action on the pitch, according to the Scorpions.

Kelley will also participate in the pre-match H-E-B Championship Celebration ceremonies during which the Scorpions will receive their 2014 NASL championship rings, the team said. The team will present Kelley with his own Scorpions jacket and other official team gear.

"When we first heard of Michael's situation, it truly touched our hearts," said Scorpions president and general manager Howard Cornfield. "We wanted to do something to let Michael and other special-needs athletes know that they're admired and appreciated. After all, the Scorpions exist because of Soccer for a Cause, which was created to benefit the special-needs community. We're proud to welcome Michael as a member of the NASL Champion San Antonio Scorpions."

A student at East High School in Wichita, Kelley actively participates in extracurricular special-needs basketball. His mother, Jolinda, purchased a varsity letter jacket for her son. At a special needs basketball game, school officials asked Kelley to remove the jacket, saying that he was not allowed to wear one because he is not a member of the varsity basketball team, according to the Scorpions.

Kelley's family then started a movement to have the district award letterman jackets to special-needs athletes that has now gone viral with the hashtag #GiveThemLetters, the team said.

More information about the Scorpions and Soccer for a Cause can be found here.

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