Marley Sommer is the eldest son of AHL Worcester Sharks coach Roy Sommer. Marley also has Down syndrome and is autistic. Neither stopped him from taking to the ice on Wednesday night to perform the Star Spangled Banner in front of the crowd.
Sporting a special Worcester Sharks jersey for Autism Awareness, Sommer was supposed to sing the anthem from the bench. He had other ideas. With his dad behind him, Sommer took advantage of the red carpet laid out for the puck drop and walked out to the middle of the ice and let loose with the national anthem.
As you would expect, there wasn't a dry eye in the building according to Sharks broadcaster Eric Lindquist. Everybody couldn't help but be touched by a pretty incredible moment.
What a wonderful job Marley"Mo" Sommer did with the National Anthem prior to @WorcesterSharks tonight! Standing O & stick taps by both teams— Christine O'Shea (@ChrisOShea20) April 9, 2014
Marley, or Mo as he is better known, is a fixture with the Sharks team to the point that he might as well be considered another player, another one of the guys.
In a great piece on Marley from The Hockey News is this testament of what Mo means to the team.
Defenseman Nick Petrecki is kneeling down on the ground, his back to his teammates as he scrolls through his iPhone before he finds the song and presses play. From the dressing room's sound system comes the hybrid country-dance beat of the song Cotton-Eyed Joe. Immediately Mo runs to the front of the room, rocking his torso up and down as Sharks players laugh, shout and clap along. The dance has become a favorite among players and staff alike. "One of the best stories I have of him is from a few years ago," says trainer Matt White. "We were in Bridgeport and we were getting plastered. I think it was 7-1 and it was late in the third period and everyone was depressed. We just wanted the game to be over."
That is when Cotton-Eyed Joe started playing. White looked up to see Mo dancing in the aisles. "I just started dying," White says. "I literally had to duck down behind the bench because I didn't want anyone to see me laughing because we were getting our [expletive] beat. That's the kind of levity he brings ... If someone asked me what the best part of this job is: Marley. Marley's the best part of this job."
Clearly the team loves having him around and the same can be said the other way around.
Way to go Mo, that's an unforgettable anthem for all the right reasons.