Coach's son gives Sharks' minor league team inspiration

The San Jose Sharks minor league team has made the move west and has brought a special inspiration with them.

The Barracuda make their season debut Friday at the SAP Center after relocating to San Jose from Worcester, Massachusetts. KTVU found the heart and soul of the team isn't on the ice.

The pace is fast and the stakes are high. Each player with the San Jose Barracuda minor league team is looking for a chance to move-up and earn a spot on the Sharks roster.

"There's a lot of ups and downs being a professional athlete, especially when you're losing or not playing well or injured," said Barracuda player Ryan Carpenter.

But Carpenter and his teammates have an edge over other teams in the American Hockey League: a young man named Marley Sommer.

Affectionately known as "Mo," he often dances in the locker room and puts a smile on the players' faces.

"He definitely keeps the room pretty loose and that's what we need with our group of guys," said Barracuda player Bryan Lerg.

Marley is the locker room attendant and takes care of the players' gear. He's also the son of head coach Roy Sommer, a fourth generation Oakland native.

The coach says he's been bringing his son to his work as a hockey coach for 18 years, and it has helped Marley -- now 25-years old -- to become more social.

Marley's speech is limited. He has Down's syndrome and is autistic.

"You have to get these kids out. Don't keep them in a closet," said Sommer. "They need responsibilities and jobs, to be part of the fabric. The community makes them feel good."

Two years ago, Marley won many hearts when he summoned the courage to sing the national anthem at an AHL game.

The Barracuda players say Marley has taught them appreciation for imperfection.

"I was amazed. The boldness that he had; he just pushed his dad to the side. His dad was going to help him and he just did it by himself." said Carpenter. "He's a pretty big inspiration for everyone here."

Marley's pleasure at performing rituals with the players is evident and infectious.

"It's helped me enjoy the little things in life and not get so caught up in what I have and don't have," said Carpenter.

On this day, Marley posed for headshots with one of the players.

"Last year was my first healthy year in a while. I got called up. I'm going to give Mo the credit for that one," said Lerg.

The players say Marley does a lot without saying much.

"He's a huge blessing for us. It really does more for us than it does for him," said Carpenter.

You won't find Marley on the ice. While he doesn't put up points on the board, he scores where it matters.
Marley's place is in the locker room. His gift is comfort and comradery.

"He's kinda grown into part of the fabric around here," said his father.

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