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New rule keeps Ike Ditzenberger, 20, in the game one more year

When special needs student Ike Ditzenberger of Snohomish scored a touchdown in a 2010 game against Lake Stevens, he became an instant local hero and international celebrity as people around the world saw the video and cheered.

Ditzenberger has Down syndrome and his story became an inspiration for special needs students everywhere. Now, his high school football career might not be over.

Previously, students could stay in high school six years but they couldn’t play sports. The head of the state’s high school athletics governing agency, Mike Colbrese, is rewriting the handbook to allow for a sixth year of sports eligibility for special needs students, on a case-by-case basis. The change is effectively immediately.

His friends tease him and call him “Hollywood.” But they think so much of Ditzenberger that they contacted state lawmakers to write a bill to allow extra eligibility for special students such as Ditzenberger. It appears the changes to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association handbook make a change in the law unnecessary.

His mother tells the Herald that Ditzenberger’s football experience changed his life, inspiring him to new accomplishments.

Ditzenberger will likely get a chance to wear the uniform of the Snohomish Panthers again next fall.

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