Typical kid named homecoming king in Blaine

Brock Shepard punched open his cardboard box and released a helium balloon, the signal that he had been chosen Blaine High School homecoming king. Shepard celebrates while candidates Joey Blommer and Logan Nelson applaud his victory. (Photo by Sue Austreng, ABC Newspapers)

When Brock Shepard broke open a box and a helium balloon floated out at Blaine High School’s field house yesterday, it signaled that the kids of Blaine are alright, and so are quite a few of the adults.

It’s a tradition at the school when the homecoming king is announced. When it was apparent Shepard received the honor, the field house cheered, ABC Newspapers’ Sue Austreng reports.

“This is a fun day. I thank everyone for always seeing beyond my limitations,” Shepard said.

Shepard, who has Down syndrome, is the student manager for the school’s wrestling team, which organized the effort to get him recognized.

It’s also a reflection on the school’s wrestling coach Josh Prokosch, judging by the note on the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s Facebook page posted last April by Shepard’s mother, Deb.

Brock and Mr. Prokosch first connected when Brock had him for a physical education course. Brock is a huge fan of wrestling, and Mr. Prokosch invited him to be a manager with the team without any hesitations.

Brock had a great experience being part of this group, and of course, as his parents, we were thrilled that someone saw Brock as a typical teenage kid who enjoyed hanging out with other guys with similar interests.

Anoka-Hennepin School District.

I’m not sure how much Brock actually helped with managing duties, but he certainly was a super fan.

He gained so much just being with athletes and others who are a part of the program. We had the opportunity to attend the wrestling banquet this (year), and I left the event with even more admiration and respect for Mr. Prokosch as a person, teacher, and coach. He holds a philosophy and a vision for the program that truly looks at the development of the whole person, not just the athlete.

Character and education are just as important, if not more important, than a winning record. It was clear that the young men he is coaching understand this and rise to the expectation. The team was recognized for their excellent grades, and as the athletes were described by coaches, their positive character traits were evident.

As the seniors spoke to close the evening, it was obvious that Mr. Prokosch and the other coaches have made a substantial impact on these young lives beyond the love of the sport. The messages Mr. Prokosch delivered this evening were thoughtful, articulate, and heartfelt. He is an outstanding role model for these high school students.

Too often, parents don’t take the time to acknowledge the great work they see educators doing, so I’m taking the opportunity to do so (now).

(h/t: Mary Schaefle)