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Spirit of Acadiana: No labels for Ashton Francis

Ashton Francis.PNG
Posted at 6:50 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 12:33:01-05

He was labeled as autistic, but Westgate High's Ashton Francis wanted nothing to do with labels.

He just wanted a chance.

He's taken that chance and made some special things happen.

"Probably all of our team might not know the kid's autistic," said Westgate High Athletic Director Ryan Antoine. "You ask me today, I don't know what that means. I just know I love that kid and that kid plays hard."

Autism can hardly be considered a negative. In fact, it's common. The CDC says one in 44 children in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum.

Still, in some circles, the word autistic, unfortunately, raises eyebrows and makes some uneasy. Those feelings only served to make Ashton Francis want more.

"When I was growing up, you get clowned about it, but I was just made me work harder in the classroom, harder in the weight room," said Francis.

Francis and Antoine formed a bond last December when the two were part of the Tigers state championship team.

That win has helped Francis to focus on this future in the sport.

Being part of a team, according to his coach, has paid off for him in innumerable ways.

Last week, Ashton signed with Tyler Community College and the young man whom many said couldn't or shouldn't will graduate high school and play football at the next level.

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