Playing football is Evan Somano's passion, and Wednesday night, he played for his high school team for the very first time.
"It felt great," said the sophomore at John A. Ferguson Senior High School in west Miami-Dade. "I wanted to play real hard. Get out on the field."
Somano has loved the game since he was a little boy, but something has always limited him – a heart condition he was born with. His first surgery was at 6 months old. His next open-heart surgery was just two years ago.
"Evan was playing flag football at the time and he was getting tired," remembered his dad, Manny Somano.
That's when his family knew it was time to go back to the hospital. When Evan was 13, he had an artificial pulmonary valve put in. It slowed him down, but his dad said he didn't give up on playing football.
"His weight was down and he had to get energy back, and he tried really hard to continue to play flag football," Manny Somano said.
That hard work led to him playing for coach Luis Diaz.
"There's lot of running, constantly running, and doing all kinds of activities where we thought that would be a hinderance to him, but he made it through all the conditioning," coach Diaz said about Somano. "He never once asked to take a break. He never once asked to be let up for anything and he made it through the season."
Evan Somano said, "At the beginning, I was horrible. I'd be the last guy at everything, but now I'm slowly moving up and I'm doing pretty good."
The coach, Evan's friends, teammates, and family all agree, calling Evan an inspiration and proof that anything can be done, with a little heart.
"If you love it and you want to do it, push yourself and go all the way," the 15-year-old said.