Vandegrift senior to play in his first varsity football game

Drew Sanders, VHS head coach, encourages Tommy Hartman after practice.

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Vandegrift senior Tommy Hartman has been practicing to play in his first varsity football game. It is a dream come true.

“It means a lot. I”m a senior. Coach wants me to suit up and get some playtime,” Hartman said.

“This is a huge dream because I really wanted to play in a varsity game. I’ve never gotten to,” Hartman said. “I’ve been thinking about it for four years.”

He describes the play the team has been practicing. “I get the ball from my friend Ryan and get it into the end zone,” Hartman said.

Vandegrift quarterback Ryan Back hands off the football to Tommy Hartman in practice.

The play is planned for the Nov. 13 game vs Hutto at Monroe Memorial Stadium.

Starting quarterback Ryan Back has been friends with Hartman since 4th grade.

“He’s been a manager for my sports teams since middle school, it means a lot to me to be a part of this amazing opportunity and experience for Tommy,” Back said.

Another senior teammate, Ethan Fiske, is also excited for this moment, describing it as magical and awesome.

Photos by Lynette Haaland

“He’s the biggest football guy I know and this is the biggest opportunity for him,” Fiske said.

Caleb Sanders, another senior teammate, describes Hartman as loyal, lifting and working out with the team for years.  

“It means a lot. He is so deserving. Been there with us every single year,” said Sanders, who is a son of the head coach. “It’s his moment to shine.”

Hartman encourages other students who are on the autism spectrum to “work hard” and “get what you want.”

He won Homecoming King a few weeks ago and he told the Vandegrift Voice.

“I felt really excited. My sister, Mary-Ellen, won two years ago and I basically wanted to do what she did, and I achieved that,” Hartman said. “Winning homecoming was a historic moment because I am the second kid to win with autism after my sister.”

Drew Sanders, VHS football head coach adds that Hartman “brightens our day. He’s as big a part of our program as anybody.”

Not only is Hartman a huge Detroit Lions fan but football is one of his favorite things in life.

“He loves football, it is part of him and to let him carry the football is exciting,” Sanders said.