A month has passed already, but Scituate assistant football coach Ryan Cadres still gets emotional thinking about it.
It was only a few years ago the longtime assistant coach and statistician found out that March was National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, and when the time came around this year, he thought it would be a good idea to write a Facebook post a day about his life with the disability over the last 43 years. Some were just honest, some were self-deprecating.
And after a conversation with close friend Dan Biggins, owner of Magoun-Biggins Funeral Home, it dawned on Cadres to combine his awareness push with the sport he coaches that doesn’t normally play in March.
He didn’t know what to expect.
But it certainly wasn’t for Biggins to donate 125 green T-shirts to the Scituate and Whitman-Hanson football programs – both near-and-dear to Cadres’ heart. It certainly wasn’t for Damien’s Pub to donate four gift certificates, funding a contest Cadres promoted for people to wear green on March 25 – Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. And it definitely wasn’t for Scituate, Whitman-Hanson and Abington to back the event, with the Sailors donning green socks in their next game in solidarity with the guy taking down their stats and promoting them to area media every week.
“Just to have Coach (Herb) Devine and coach (Mike Driscoll) at Whitman-Hanson to back the event is unreal,” Cadres said, his voice wavering. “I can’t say enough about the Scituate Gridiron Club. When I went down to present these shirts, I gave the shirts and I told them the story. I’m no one special, I’m getting teary-eyed about it. They wore green socks the next day and gave me a couple mementos that are hanging in my man-cave. It’s heart-warming.”
It’s been 30 years since Cadres first got a crack in football, a remarkable commitment given he never had the chance to take a single snap.
His parents were always supportive of everything – except playing football. And as an eighth-grader in 1991, he idolized the powerhouse Whitman-Hanson football team under legendary head coach Bob Bancroft. So, when the opportunity presented itself to be the team manager – even without much football knowledge as far as stats went – he jumped at it.
He went on to stay with Whitman-Hanson through 2003, learning the game from Bancroft as Cadres stayed local. Although baseball and basketball are his two main loves, Cadres was hooked.
“I love high school sports, and Bob didn’t want to get rid of me I don’t think,” he said. “I just wanted to be a part of something. It was quite the experience, I was learning a lot about the game. It kind of stuck with me. … That’s where it really all began.”
Since his days at Whitman-Hanson, Cadres has been at Pembroke, back to Whitman-Hanson, back to Pembroke, over to Cardinal Spellman, and the day after Devine found out Cadres was free two years ago, he called him up to take a statistician/play-charting role with Scituate. Cadres has been a stay-at-home dad for his two kids (Owen and Chloe), so after he talked it over with his wife, Erika, he was happy to take the job.
It’s not quite the same responsibilities Cadres came to love as a JV coach, offensive coordinator and right-hand man with the other programs; he misses that like missing oxygen. But he still loves working with the Sailors program while he looks for another job.
The limp in his step and the one free-hanging arm Cadres has from the disorder isn’t really something he notices until he sees it on video. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t ask for hand-outs – he refuses to apply for a handicap placard for parking – and is quite active as a basketball official and three-sport coach. Cerebral palsy doesn’t define him, but he still hears the chirps about his disability.
When thinking about that, and how his son is starting to ask questions as he gets older, Cadres felt it was important to spread awareness on what he can and can’t do with cerebral palsy.
“I wanted to bring awareness, but I also wanted to show my son that even though dad’s a little different, he can still lead a normal life and do things that he loves,” he said.
Devine, the Scituate Gridiron Club, and the players were happy to be a part of it. And for Whitman-Hanson to join Cadres, who “bleeds red and black,” the 43-year-old is forever grateful.