Avon's last regular season game against Ellington Thursday began with a kickoff like any soccer game.
But to Avon High School senior captain Robby Brisco, it was special.
Brisco found out last February that he had a rare form of cancer in his femur above his knee called Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor and the cancer also spread to his lungs. Initially doctors were saying he'd never play a contact sport again.
While Brisco is avoiding too much physical exertion and contact play, Avon varsity head coach Patrick Mulligan called Ellington coach Roy Gurnon to run an idea by him. At the beginning of the season, he asked Brisco if he'd like to kick off at the last season game.
"I didn't think I was going to be physically fit enough to do it, strong enough, but I am now," Brisco said.
He was only in for the first few seconds after he kicked the ball and then was subbed, but those few seconds meant a lot to him.
His father, Doug Brisco said that his son has been working up to that moment all season.
"He's been looking forward to doing it," Doug Brisco said. "I would like to thank Coach Mulligan and Coach Gurnon for letting him make the play."
The game was supposed to be on Monday, but the schools were closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and after school activities were canceled on Monday and Tuesday.
"I was a bit worried the game would be canceled because of the hurricane and they wouldn't be able to reschedule it," Brisco said after he took a photo of his son's kickoff.
Despite not playing in games, Mulligan appointed Robby Brisco as a co-captain this season. Brisco goes to every practice and game, feeding crosses to his teammates, doing drills and running occasionally during warmups. His is able to run and bike and does physical therapy about three times a week to work on strengthening his quadriceps and bending his knee.
Not playing is tough, but he said watching the games from the sidelines gives him a different perspective and "makes you see what the coaches talk about" technically.
"It didn't affect how I was going to try and treat my captainship," he said.
His father said that he's done with surgeries and that the chemotherapy seems to be helping.
Brisco has been going to school when he doesn't have appointments. He's getting his driver's license soon so that he can drive Doug Brisco's Roadster convertible to school.
Robby said has seen a lot of support from the community and his team. Last February the team organized an indoor tournament called Kickin' It for Robby to raise money for children’s bone cancer research and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) where he goes for treatments. About 1,000 attended, Doug Brisco said.
A week ago, the boys and girls teams did a fundraiser for CCMC in honor of Brisco at games against the rival Suffield teams. The event raised nearly $3,000 between ticket, concession and Kickin' It for Robby bracelet proceeds.
Doug Brisco said his son has maintained a positive attitude during his recovery. He said that Robby and his friends use an expression called "bay life" about the situation, slang for saying "I don't care." In other words, Robby is not living his life thinking about the fact that he has cancer. He's living life how he would any day.
The Avon boys varsity soccer team now has a 12-3-1 record. Winning the game 4-3 means that Avon could have better positioning in the conference tournament.
It's hard to predict how far the team will advance in the playoffs and possibly the state tournament, but regardless, Robby Brisco will be there leading and cheering for his team.
Congratulations to the seniors on the team!:Name Jersey Number Phil Lopreiato
1 David Freling
3 Matthew Griffin 6 Jackson Davey
7 Taylor Maniatty
11 Robert Brisco 13 Jason Leaning
15 Ryan Baker 23