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Nate Petrey, Mason High School football coach with Down syndrome, has special bond with team

Posted: 5:21 AM, Sep 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-17 15:37:25Z

MASON, Ohio ---  Mason football coach Brian Castner says coaching assistant Nate Petrey makes him and his team better.

For Petrey, who has Down syndrome, the feeling is mutual.

“This football team is my family,” said Petrey, who has built a close bond with Castner and the Mason players. “I'm like a big brother to them.”

Petrey once played football at Mason, Now, as their coaching assistant, he sets up the practice field and helps with drills and anything else the head coach needs.

That includes keeping everybody positive.

Senior Chase Evans said Petrey “brings a positive energy everyday.”

“He's always coming in happy, smiling, and it gets everyone excited and everyone happy,” Evans said.

Castner agreed.

“When he walks into the locker room or when he walks into the coaches office, the coaches perk up and they're like, ‘All right, Nate Dog's here! Coach Petrey's here!’ And automatically he's making us better," Castner said.

Castner met Petrey nearly 20 years ago and he said the two men have made a positive impact on each other’s life.

'’He makes me a better person,” Castner said. “I think a lot of things in life happen for a reason -  not everything, but a lot of things. Him in my life and me in his life … it happened for a reason. It's been 18 years strong now."

“He makes me better as a coach, as a team… he gets me better," Petrey said of Castner.

Petrey hopes to be Castner’s coaching assistant for a long time to come.

“I want to do this my entire life,” Petrey said.

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