CAMPBELL, Calif. (KGO) — A Campbell High School student with special needs is inspiring the community of students with disabilities.
Jason Kobara scored a touchdown during his high school football game. ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena shared a stunning story about how he now opens doors for others to believe in their dreams.
It’s prom at Del Mar High School, and all eyes are on number 22. The play he’s about to put on has been a year in the making.
Coach Robert Chapman: “Are you excited?
Jason Kobara: “Yes, and a little nervous.”
Coach Robert Chapman: “No, you’ll be fine.”
As Jason shakes his nerves, jumping up and down, his mom, dad, and brother wait anxiously in the stands.
In the upper stands, his teachers and classmates hold a sign that says “Go Jason.”
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“He woke up this morning and jumped out of bed and said it was game day!” said Tracy Kobara, Jason’s mom.
Jason runs to his place on the field. His teammates make room for the play. The opposing team is ready.
“Hey, I’ll protect you. Alright!” one of his teammates shouts.
The crowd rises to its feet. Phones are in recording mode. The band plays louder. This is the moment this school has been waiting for. Their secret weapon is revealed. His name is Jason Kobara, number 22.
To understand the significance of this play, we need to know Jason and the process he went through to get here. It all started near office 51. One of the offices of the special edition. students at Del Mar High School.
Luz Pena: “What’s the backstory? How did you know Jason wanted to play football?’
Eric Greer: “We walk in class every day. Jason and I talk about the 49rs and George Kittle and Jason said to me, ‘Hey Mr. Eric, I’m really good at football. I throw the ball well and very fast.
Eric Greer is Jason’s assistant. After class, they set aside time to play catch. During one such moment, Jason said he wanted to play for his high school’s football team.
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“That’s the competitiveness in me. I said yes, we can do it!” Eric Greer said.
It turns out that Eric is a former college athlete. He played football for Humboldt State. He called the football coach at Del Mar High School.
“Coach Chapman, I let him know. Hey, I have an athlete here who is a senior this year and he wants to be a part of the team. What do you think? He was just about it,” Eric Greer said, adding, “I was able to get a helmet from the athletic director and I had some old pads from when I played and we were able to put the uniform together.”
With a team of figures, Eric taught Jason the basics.
(Eric) “Who are they? (Jason) Lineman. Defender. Defender and me. (Eric) What’s the defender going to do? (Jason) Give me the ball. (Eric) What’s he going to do? (Jason) He’s going to block and I make a landing.”
Jason chose a superhero with an innate ability – speed. Super strength that is needed on the football field.
“Flash is fast and so am I,” Jason said.
Then they moved to the white board and began practicing a play that Jason would “maybe” make on the field one day.
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After a few months, it was time to take the classroom experience to the field. Jason was welcomed to the team and chose number 22, his favorite number. Athletes, whom he had seen from afar for years, became his friends.
“We work with strikers. We work with receivers and running backs. We make sure to attend warm-ups and all training sessions. Jason is always involved in every little practice,” Eric Greer said.
When he got home, Jason didn’t stop. He drew inspiration from the team he watched.
Luz Pena: “What’s your favorite team?”
Jason Kobara: “49th”.
Luz Pena: “Favorite player?”
Jason Kobara: “George Kittle.”
Luz Pena: “Why?”
Jason Kobara: – Because he runs fast.
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The students at Del Mar High School soon noticed a new member of the football team. Senior in cowboy boots and hat.
“My cowboy hat is my look,” Jason said.
After a few months of practice, Jason and Eric got a call. Jason was scheduled to play during senior night.
“I’m thinking about winning,” Jason said.
Luz Pena: “Is that all you think about?”
Jason Kobara: – Yes!
Although Jason doesn’t know it, his hard work will open doors for other students with special needs.
“I think it’s a good sign, especially for our program. If Jason can do it, any of our students can do it,” said Larry Lopez, principal at Del Mar High School.
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On game day, Jason swapped his cowboy boots for boots. Eric helped him get ready and reminded him that they were no different. Eric was also born with many limitations, and this did not stop him from playing football. One such challenge surfaced in the locker room.
“Mr. Eric is dyslexic today, and that’s okay,” Eric Greer said.
On Jason’s left hand is a picture of the play.
“It is very useful. I love seeing how excited and happy Jason gets when he succeeds on the football field. He won’t blink an eye when he tells you, “Hey, I work hard.” He works really hard,” Eric Greer said.
Luz Pena: “What do you hope Jason gets out of this experience?”
Eric Greer: “I hope he understands that working with a team is great. It’s important to work with other people. Being able to do that successfully is something you have to do not only in school, not only on the football field, but also in life”.
Holding hands with his teammates, Jason walks to the field. The athletes on the team taught him more than football – this group showed him that unity is more powerful than learning.
“You’ll make a touch! We are going to celebrate. Hey! You’re going to do well,” Jason’s teammates said.
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After an hour on the sidelines, Jason came out on the field to play. His teammates and classmates in the stands shouted “Go Jason!”
On the field, one of the Del Mar players yelled to Jason, “Hey, I’ll protect you. Good!”
Jason ran into the end zone and the crowd erupted. After the touchdown, his teammates surrounded him and started yelling, “Let’s go!”
His coach became emotional.
“He’s been here every day working, and to be able to give him the opportunity to do that, it was awesome, it was awesome. I’m proud of him,” said Robert Chapman, Del Mar High School football coach, after Jason’s game.
Jason’s father is still in awe.
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“I didn’t think it would ever happen,” Steve Kobara said. “He was born premature and had a hard time learning. I didn’t think it was possible, but they really helped him.”
And then there’s Eric, Jason’s help. Eric went above and beyond the call of duty to make Jason’s dream come true.
You can hear it in his voice – the sound of victory as he yells “Yes, Jason!” as Jason ran toward the end zone.
That night, Jason learned what it means to persevere and overcome. In the end, Jason really picked the right superhero because his speed was undeniable.
“That’s right, FLASH! How are you feeling? Good. I told you they would support you,” Eric told Jason.
Jason made history as the first special needs student to play football at this school. Del Mar High School is taking off its jersey. Now he doesn’t need figurines. He became a real superhero for the whole community.
“I felt great. Football is part of my blood,” Jason Kobara said.
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