When Hunter Hammon suited up for the Fairview Yellow Jackets Friday night, he not only scored points for his team, he won over his hometown.
Fairview High defeated East Hickman and advanced to 8-0 on the season. But the Yellow Jackets’ game was about much more than winning. It was a life lesson in personal dedication and love for one another.
Fairview senior Hunter Hammon hasn’t always been able to compete on school teams after being diagnosed with epilepsy as an infant and with intellectual disabilities while in elementary school.
“While he was able to play flag football, tackle football was considered too dangerous because of his condition,” said his mother, Kim Hammon.
Over the years, Kim said, they have been blessed with coaches from the Fairview Titans Jr. Pro program, middle school and high school “that have allowed Hunter to always be a part of their teams.”
Still, she never imagined what happened Friday would be possible.
Hunter has served as a team manager since his freshman year. Last spring, Coach Chris Hughes suggested Hunter might suit up and play in a junior varsity game this fall.
“We all agreed it would make his year,” his mother said.
Then last week, Hughes changed his mind. Instead of JV, he suggested Hunter dress out for the varsity game. To add to the excitement, Hunter was also asked to serve as team captain for the game.
“He loves Friday nights and weekends this time of year because of all the games, but being able to suit up was a very big deal to Hunter,” Hammon said.
“Hunter was on cloud nine since he first found out last week,” she said. “My first reaction was ‘Varsity? Really? We have got to win this game.'”
At the start of the game, the Fairview players lined the inflatable Yellow Jacket tunnel and Hunter ran onto the field as official team captain. With the crowd cheering in the background, he walked to the 50-yard line for the coin toss, and he stood tall on the sideline as the Jackets outscored their opponents.
Hunter’s special moment came midway through the fourth quarter when he stepped on the field after a touchdown. The Jackets got into formation, and Hunter ran the football into the end zone to score on a 2-point conversion. It was a magical moment as the stadium erupted in applause for Yellow Jacket #76 and fireworks lit up the night sky.
Hunter said he felt “happy and proud to play” with his teammates.
“This is Hunter’s community,” Hammon said. “It’s where he has grown up, and God willing, it’s where he will live. As parents, it’s comforting knowing how many people care about him and will look out for him when we can’t.”