Two Matanzas High School twins with some autistic traits got to shine the brightest on Senior Night Friday, Oct. 29.
When they were 6 years old, identical twins Vito and Thomas Quadara, who are physically disabled with developmental delays and some autistic traits, had one wish for Christmas: They wanted football gear.
They love it so much, in fact, that on Christmas night, they went to bed fully decked in their football attire.
That unforgettable Christmas was the beginning of a future filled with pigskins and the gridiron.
Football is all about hard hitting. It’s about athleticism. Speed , too. But it’s also about being a team. Vito and Thomas got to experience being a part of a football family firsthand.
From summer camp to kick-off
Vito and Thomas were obsessed with football since they were students at Indian Trails Middle School.
Pirates coach Keith Lagocki held an annual summer football camp. Barbara confronted Lagocki about getting Vito and Thomas involved, but she was a bit hesitant because of their disabilities.
“It was only for three days out of the week,” Barbara said. “I started by standing on the side, watching. But by the second year, I was just dropping them off.”
The relationship between Lagocki and the Quadaras continued through high school, and Vito and Thomas wanted to stay involved.
Lagocki always made a point to include them. Through the first three years, the twins helped the team by doing anything and attending occasional away games. By senior year, they were a part of the team completely, getting their jerseys on Thursdays and attending all home and away games.
Lagocki said it was a natural progression to allow Vito and Thomas to be a part of the football program at Matanzas. He confronted Barbara a year ago and mentioned his plan about having them appear in their senior game against Sandalwood High School.
Then, on Thursday, Oct. 28, Barbara picked up her twins from practice. When they got in the car, they told her they would be playing Friday.
“They were walking on cloud nine,” Barbara recalls. “I don’t know who was more excited: them or me and my husband … My husband was speechless. He never thought he’d get to see the boys in football gear.”
On Friday, Oct. 29, Vito and Thomas appeared in kick-off coverage during the first quarter of the Pirates game against Sandalwood.
“I was a little nervous, but I’m glad I got do it,” Vito said after the game.
Added his brother, Thomas: “I got to run out on the field when they called my number, and my mom was happy for me.”
Said Lagocki, “They’ve been the biggest fans of Matanzas football since I’ve been here. What we did (Friday night) allowed all the coaches and players to thank (Vito and Thomas) for being so supportive and being such big fans.”
One play will last forever
Barbara said thanks to Lagocki, the entire team has made her twins just two other players on the team, something for which she will always be grateful.
“Coach Lagocki has taught his football team how to be around disabled people— how to treat them and how to respect them,” Barbara said. “My sons are able to walk through school and feel comfort - able being a part of the football team.
Barbara recorded the play, and it’s already a family classic.
In fact, it’s reminiscent of sleeping in football gear on Christmas night. Barbara said Vito hasn’t stopped watching the videotape of his memorable night.