School closings

Rockford football player forms special bond with young fan

 

ROCKFORD, Mich. -- A special bond between a high school football player and a little boy is getting a lot of attention in the Rockford community.

It's normal for kids to idolize athletes, often ones they won't meet in person. But 5-year-old Blake Springer doesn't have to look very far.

"When one of the football players walked out they saw the look on my son's face and his eyes lit up like nothing I've ever seen," said Blake's mom Rebecca Springer.

It all started last month, when 17-year-old Austin Kline and some other Rockford football players went to Springer's elementary school before their game.

"All I remember was when I walked out of the school I saw Blake's eyes and I just remember being a young kid and seeing all the older football players and just remembering like how cool it was seeing them," Kline said. "So I just went up to him and talked to him."

The pair got a photo together, but it didn't end there.

"He asked me about 12 times on the way home if we can please go watch his friend play," Rebecca Springer said. "We didn't know his name, we just knew him as the 1 and the 5 and then we later figured out that it was Austin."

Rebecca posted about the new friendship on Facebook, where Austin's mom saw it.

"It was emotional for me," Sandra Klein said. "We're lucky that she did this because I think today a lot of parents, especially parents of teenagers, they feel like they failed at some point. They feel like they're doing it wrong or, especially with this age, it's a tough age. And I don't think a lot of parents get the reward that I've gotten."

"I thought to myself as a mom, if that football player had been my son I would want to know," Rebecca said. "I don't think he realizes the impact he made in his life and I think Blake will always hold and I will always hold a special place in my heart for him just for the way that he reacted."

Blake has gone to every Rockford home football game since that meeting, and has even been to some away games.

"It was cool," Austin said. "It was really cool to see him in the stands and I always wave to him and he'll wave back while I was on the field."

At the homecoming game Friday night, Blake wore his custom #15 jersey made by Austin's mom Sandra and cheered on his favorite player.

Now that football season is almost over, both Blake and Austin say they're pretty sad they won't get to see each other at games anymore.  Austin says he plans on going to Blake's basketball games once they start in a few weeks.

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