KUSA – Get them in; get them out.
Get them ready for the next run, the next year. That is typically all Fairview’s coach John Zadigian gets.
“Freshman ball, you get kids one year and then they kind of move on,” Zadigian said.
Yet Zadigian, better known as “Coach Z,” has had a bit longer with Ian Weber. Their bond goes back more than a decade.
“Ian came out his freshman year and said he wanted to be on the football team so we put him in uniform, and the rest is history,” Zadigian said.
For 12 years, Ian Weber has been a part of the history of Fairview’s freshman team. He was born with a genetic condition known as fragile X syndrome and struggles with developmental delays. You won’t, however, see him struggle with attitude.
“He loves to laugh. He has the best laugh in the world,” Ian’s mother Jayne Dixon-Weber said.
It’s an audible cackle that is easily heard. Ian is no stranger to high volume. If there is a louder fan of the Knights, Boulder has yet to hear him.
That’s not why Ian has suited up for every game though. Twelve years ago, when he first put on a Knights helmet, Coach Z called a play for him and Ian got to feel the thrill of finding the end zone.
“I love it,” Ian said. “Touchdowns are fun too.”
Ian has never stopped running. He actually has more touchdowns then anyone in the history of Fairview High School.
“How many TDs have you scored?” Zadigian asked Ian. “Hundreds,” he replied with a smile.
He’s scored more than 100 touchdowns, each ending the same way.
“Then what do you do when you score?” Zadigian asked. “I like spike it,” Ian replied.
“You spike the ball, and then what?” Zadigian asked. “I point to the ladies,” Ian said, laughing with his head in his hand.
“Your heart just stops because you’re so excited,” Dixon-Weber said. “Ian is so excited. It’s so heartwarming and brings a tear to my eye every time.”
Every season brings a new freshman class that quickly learns the TD tradition.
“We called Ian ‘smash right,’ and then I realized, OK, Ian is getting the ball and he’s probably going to score,” Fairview freshman David McWilliams said. “The first time I realized it was when we were out on the field, and that was pretty cool.”
“It’s always great to start out with a touchdown, for one, and then to see Ian and the look on his face after he scores, and then the traditional spike, and it gets us all pumped up,” freshman Jake Willemsen said.
“A lot of coaches don’t realize it, but it’s a good thing for us to have him start the game off and get us a little fire,” Zadigian added.
This story isn’t about Ian running one touchdown or even his record number of scores. This story is about his final touchdown run. After 20 years on the Fairview sideline, Coach Z is retiring. Ian decided he would call it a career as well.
Now 25 years old, his life has been changed by John Zadigian. But this connection, this friendship couldn’t possibly be what it is if Ian hadn’t done the same for Coach Z.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Zadigian said, “I can’t tell you how it brings me back to reality when I see him having the fun that he has.”
The touchdowns don’t count, not in terms of points on the board. But for anyone who has seen Ian run, that’s never really mattered.
Ian and Coach Z have had one heck of a run.