MADISON TOWNSHIP – Madison Ram senior soccer player Chris Kukowski was running on Cloud 9.
During a Sept. 14 home game, the Rams owned a commanding 9-1 lead with five minutes left in the match against Oregon Clay. The head coach pointed to Kukowski, who has a genetic condition known as Down syndrome, and told him to go in at forward.
Kukowski ran to the check in flag like he had springs in his feet. Moments later, he found himself with the ball at his feet near midfield. He dribbled by a defender, approached the goal, gave the goal keeper a juke and sent a rocket to the back of the net for his first goal. He celebrated by spreading his arms straight out like a plane and running into a huge congratulatory hug from his Rams teammates.
“I got Chris in when we were up 9-1 and it was kind of a surprise we were up by that much,” Madison coach Tim Lord said. “Clay is a very good team that had just beat Southview and tied Perrysburg. I anticipated a tough game, but we just kept firing. I got Chris in with five minutes left and put him in at forward and their coach recognized the situation, alerted his defenders and it was great to see the defender make it look like he was playing tough defense and the keeper made it look like Chris made a great move. He celebrated and it was just a special moment.”
Kukowski’s genetic condition “is usually associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features” according to the European Journal of Pediatrics. But that doesn’t mean Kukowski lets it hold him back.