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Thread: An Inspiration To All Of Us

  1. #1
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Apr 2001
    Bellefontaine, Ohio

    An Inspiration To All Of Us

    Anyone else read this article in Friday's DDN about the Colonel White high school football player? Check it out. It's simply amazing and inspiring. The paper had pictures (which I would have loved to have posted); but the website didn't post any. What a kid!


    'An inspiration to all of us'

    By Tom Archdeacon

    Dayton Daily News

    As the Colonel White football team marched single file into Valley View's stadium for the season opener, all eyes were on the Cougars' No. 99. Between two linemen, he stood no higher than their thigh pads.

    The Valley View fans, players and coaches had never seen anything like it:

    Was he the mascot? A manager? Some never-get-off-the-bench token?

    Everyone found out later in the game. But let's let Bobby Martin No. 99 tell you what happened:

    "I was in at nose tackle," the 17-year-old Colonel White senior said. "Their quarterback was trying to run the ball wide. Their center grabbed onto me and tried to bury me, but I broke free and ran down the line and caught the quarterback before he got to the line of scrimmage."

    That might sound like a typical defensive play, except for one thing.

    When Bobby Martin "runs," he does so by using his arms.

    He was born with no legs.

    His body ends just a little below his waist.

    But as the Valley View crowd found out just as the Dunbar faithful did last Friday night at Welcome Stadium while Martin may be lacking in stature, he stands as tall, if not taller, than any athlete in the Miami Valley.

    "Bobby's proved that when the Lord takes something away from you, He always gives you something extra someplace else," said his grandmother, Martha Walker.

    Valley View coach Jay Niswonger was so impressed, he sent out video e-mails of the Colonel White nose tackle's play. Even though his team buried Colonel White, Niswonger said Bobby who had two tackles in his late-game appearance was the talk of all the Spartans players afterward: "He was an inspiration to all of us. And I'll tell you, our crowd really embraced him, too."

    Justin Dean, a recent Colonel White grad who now works as a Cougars sidelines assistant, was struck by that, as well: "Their crowd gave Bobby a standing ovation. There were some teary eyes. People could hardly believe what they were seeing. It's like that wherever we go. We get off the bus and the other team just stands there looking. I guess it's kind of weird to them. They're trying to figure out just what Bobby's all about, just what he can do."

    Bobby's capabilities and they are myriad sometimes get a communal hug and, other times, a traffic ticket from an incredulous cop.

    "Don't try to tell Bobby he's got no legs don't tell him he's got a handicap he just will not accept that," Colonel White assistant coach Kerry Ivy said. "To be truthful, he's a tough kid to coach because he expects to be playing every play."

    Bobby is a regular on Colonel White's punt return team he gets down field faster than a lot of the other players and he sees spot duty, usually near the end of the game, as a backup nose tackle. He hates being relegated to the bench, a point he made clear in the final minutes of Colonel White 23-20 victory over Dunbar.

    "When he wasn't in there late, oh was he (ticked) off," Ivy said. "I told him, 'Dog, I love ya', but this is how it is now.' But even then, you still have to keep an eye on him or he may just sub himself in."

    Being told he can't do something is hard for Bobby to stomach. He's spent a lifetime turning the word "no" into "yes."

    "You name it, he does it," Dean said. "He skates, bowls, dances ... even drives a car. He drives it pretty good, but I gotta say the first time I rode with him, I felt like I was at Kings Island on a ride. It was something."

    The way he worked the hand controls?

    "Hand controls? There weren't any hand controls," Dean said. "He had a metal rod from his porch or something and he used it to press the gas and the brakes."

    Needless to say, the traffic cops who have stopped Bobby for speeding, for no license haven't been that impressed.

    Bobby's Camaro, his mom said, is now parked. And that means her son's primary mode of transportation is that special skateboard he's rigged up. Balanced on the 12-by-18-inch board he's bolted to two sets of wheels, Bobby navigates everything from the hallways of Colonel White to the sidewalks of downtown Dayton.

    "At school they told him they'd put all his classes on the first floor, but he said, 'I'm fine. I can get up the stairs like any other kid,' " Dean said. "He puts the board under his arm and hops up the stairs faster than most guys go with two legs.

    "We went to eat at Roosters awhile back and the lady there looked at Bobby and said, 'We have a ramp.' When she said that, he got on his board, did a wheelie while doing a handstand, jumped off and was up the steps before she could say another word."

    Someone should have told her his nickname is Tony Hawk.

    And the name of the daredevil boarder fits him a lot better than the tag his dad put on him soon after he was born. At first Bobby was called Boo Hoo because he cried so much. And no wonder. Not only was he without legs and would need an occupational therapist to teach him how to roll over, but he required extensive corrective surgery to repair his under-developed lower tract areas. And, he was asthmatic.

    "I don't exactly know how it all happened," said Gloria, an intake coordinator for Day-Mont Behavioral Health Care. "At first they said I had high blood, but that wasn't it. They said it ended up the worst-case scenario of a regressive syndrome where your legs grow together."

    In the beginning, Bobby's dad Robert Martin Sr. had a tough time accepting all this and he and Gloria both have said that played a part in their separation. But in recent years he's come around in his thinking and, as Gloria said, "he realizes how good Bobby really is."

    Martha Walker said Gloria did a good job fostering Bobby's independence: "The Lord picked the right person to be his mother. My daughter did what I probably would not have. I was over-protective. With Bobby I would have been too upset. I'd have been trying to shield him from the whole world and then he wouldn't have learned to do anything for himself. But my daughter took things as they came and let him try everything."

    As Gloria explained: "I never hindered him from anything he wanted to do, never really told him, 'No.' Now, I probably should have disciplined him more, but I didn't want him to shy away from things. Didn't want him to have any complexes."

    Bobby quickly learned how to work his way through life on his own. Prosthetic legs were an impossibility he had no thighs to which to affix them and he doesn't like a wheelchair.

    It slows me down," he said.

    The skateboard idea, he said, came about some 11 years ago at a Beavercreek skating rink: "They put skates on my hands, but that didn't work. Then someone suggested a skateboard."

    With a means to get to where he wanted, Bobby showed he had plenty to do once he got there. At Roth Middle School, he played football and wrestled, using his upper-body strength and those well-muscled arms.

    But once he got to high school, he strayed from sports and had brief stops at both Dunbar and Meadowdale before finding a home at Colonel White, where he is one of the most popular students and has been reunited with Earl White, the Cougars' head football coach who also was his wrestling coach at Roth.

    "When Bobby drifted out of sports, he got in with some guys from the street some of them thugs and it wasn't good," one Colonel White staffer said. "Sports are more positive for him."

    White agreed: "He's so much a part of everything that goes on, we don't see him as handicapped. Everything any other kid does, he does. To us, he's just Bobby. He's a normal kid."

    You see that in practice, where he knocks heads with the other players, trash talks with the best of them and doesn't flinch when the barbs come back his way.

    "He's jokeable," Dean said. "He laughs when Coach tells everyone to take a knee and the other guys go 'You, too, Bobby.' "

    Ivy said there are times though when Bobby is faced with things other players never think about.

    "Bobby always practices in shorts, so when he got his game pants, he looked over at Josh Tillman, our fullback, and said, 'How do you tie these things up?' Josh looked at him kind of strange and said, 'The same way you tie up a pair of shoes.'

    "And that's when Bobby said, 'How the hell would I know that?' "

    He learned quickly and now when he takes the field, he's dressed the same as his teammates except that his gold pants are cut off just a few inches below his belt line and he wears black leather sports gloves to give his hands extra padding.

    In the pre-game dressing room, he's especially vocal among his amped-up teammates. Once the game starts, he works his way back and forth on the sidelines, urging on the offense.

    In the stands last Friday, Gloria sat next to her brother, Jesse Walker, and worried: "I'm always afraid someone will smash into Bobby and he'll get smooshed."

    Against Dunbar, though, it was Bobby doing the smooshing. In the second quarter he came barrelling down field on a punt return and flattened the Wolverines' 163-pound Troy Myers with a hit that was at best you can't hit below the waist borderline legal. Once back at the bench, Bobby bellowed: "I ain't playin' with 'em out there. I'm hittin' em!"

    After the game, the Dunbar players congratulated the Cougars. Many sought out Bobby and from the stands Gloria watched the heart-warming scene on the Welcome Stadium turf.

    "All I've ever wanted for Bobby is for him to be the best man he could be," she said softly.

    And sportswise, that might not end with football.

    "He said he might wrestle again," Dean said. "And now he's talking about going out for track."

    A grinning Ivy, shook his head:

    "Probably the long jump."
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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  3. #2
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Apr 2001
    Bellefontaine, Ohio

    Re: An Inspiration To All Of Us

    Here is an update on this high school football player that appeared in today's addition of the DDN. It seems the game officials at last Friday night's game wouldn't allow this young man to play because the rules stipulate that a player must wear shoes and knee pads. And the coach basically responded - "I think that rule was written in mind for those who have feet and knees."

    What a ridiculous decision by these officials. Especially since this young boy has been playing - and doing quite the job for one with the disabilities that he has. He should be commended, not punished.

    I really felt sorry for him. But I think the situation got rectified, and he'll be able to pay in the future.

    Unbowed by handicap, legless player sidelined by ref

    By Tom Archdeacon
    Dayton Daily News


    Bobby Martin was born without legs, but the only thing that kept him from playing high school football last Friday night as he had the three previous weekends was a Cincinnati game official who told both the coaches and athletic directors that the Colonel White senior wasn't wearing proper equipment.

    "He said Bobby couldn't play because he didn't have shoes on," Colonel White assistant Kerry Ivy said. "He told me the rule says a player must wear shoes, thigh pads and knee pads. I told him, 'He needs feet before he can wear shoes. He needs legs before he can wear those other pads. What are you thinking? Then he said Bobby needed a medical waiver. I told him he'd already played three games, but he said those were the rules."

    The decision in the game at Mount Healthy left Martin in tears.

    "It's the first time in my life I ever felt like that," Martin said Monday as he readied for practice after school. "Everybody was looking at me, talking about what I didn't have. I felt like a clown. I hated it. I just wanted to know why it was different this game than all the rest."

    Dennis Daly, the officials' crew chief who announced the decision, wouldn't discuss the matter Monday night: "I have no comment. Talk to the Ohio High School Athletic Association."

    Colonel White Athletics Director Carolyn Woodley and Jonas Smith, Dayton Public Schools AD, did Monday.

    "Sometimes common sense has to prevail," Woodley said. "The doctors have said it's OK for Bobby to play, so have his parents, and he has the necessary grades. That's all he needs. Officials at the first three games had no problems. The way he was denied Friday, I thought it might be some kind of violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act."

    Hank Zaborniak, an assistant OHSAA commissioner, talked to all parties involved Monday: "It's unfortunate this happened. The officials should have let him play. There is a rule requiring shoes, thigh and knee pads, but I think it's fair to assume that means you have legs and feet. I talked to the official who made the call and he said he felt his crew might get in trouble if the young man got hurt. If they were going to err, they wanted it to be on the side of safety.

    "We will provide Colonel White with a letter that says he's cleared to play."

    Martin got in for just one play in the first half Friday he's part of the punt return team but the half-time decision to keep him on the sidelines seemed to stir everyone.

    "I felt bad about it," said Mount Healthy AD Tina Tuck. As it turned out, Martin's presence was felt in the second half. Colonel White had been dominated in the first half and trailed 28-0. Once the players found out Martin was being denied, they got so worked up they played Mount Healthy even in the second half, scoring 12 points to the Owls' 13.

    "Bobby carried our guys along," said Cougars assistant coach Tyrone Thornton.

    On a night when he was denied, the kid with no legs managed to give his team fresh legs.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  4. #3
    Paper Gods! KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Jul 2000
    Hamilton, Ohio

    Re: An Inspiration To All Of Us

    Article from today's Enquirer w/pics:

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005
    Mount Healthy didn't want to exclude player
    By Michael Perry and Josh Pichler
    Enquirer staff writers

    Colonel White's Bobby Martin played in three games without incident before being removed from Friday's game with Mount Healthy.

    Mount Healthy High School's head football coach and athletic director said Tuesday they did not support an officiating crew's decision to keep Bobby Martin, a senior at Dayton's Colonel White High School who has no legs, from playing in last Friday night's game.

    Martin participated in one play on the punting team in the first half before officials decided it was unsafe for him to be on the field. They cited a mandatory equipment rule from the National Federation of State High School Associations' rule book that stipulates players must wear shoes, thigh pads and knee pads, Mount Healthy coach Kurry Commins said.

    Commins said he had no problem with Martin playing.

    "From our standpoint, he served as an inspiration for our kids, and for us as coaches," Commins said.

    Mount Healthy athletic director Tina Tuck said she made it clear to Colonel White athletic director Carolyn Woodley that Mount Healthy did not object to Martin playing in the game, which the Fighting Owls won 41-12.

    "We went to their coaches ... At first they definitely were upset with us; I think they thought we had something to do with it," Tuck said. "Finally, the officials went over and cleared it up and said this was their call."

    Tuck said a member of the officiating crew told her Colonel White needed a waiver from the Ohio High School Athletic Association in order for Martin to play.

    "I didn't know about that, and neither did their AD," Tuck said.

    She added that the Mount Healthy team knew about Martin.

    "Our coach had prepared our team for him to play, just so they'd understand there was going to be someone out there who looked a little different," Tuck said. "We didn't want that kid not to play. We just think it's courageous that he's trying and we fully supported it."

    Hank Zaborniak, an assistant OHSAA commissioner, said Tuesday night he had talked to two members of the officiating crew, and that they kept Martin out of the game because they were worried about his safety.

    "They were concerned they would get into trouble for allowing somebody on the field who might get hurt," Zaborniak said. "They huddled on the field and elected to tell the coach Bobby can't play, that they need a waiver."

    He said there would be no disciplinary action taken against the officiating crew.

    "(The decision) was not intended to be harmful; it was done for the opposite reason," Zaborniak said. "To be honest with you, they didn't know what to do."

    Dennis Daly, the officiating crew chief who lives in Cincinnati, would not comment on Tuesday and referred questions to Zaborniak.

    Martin already had played in three games this season before last Friday's.

    "It's the first time in my life I ever felt like that," he told the Dayton Daily News. "Everybody was looking at me, talking about what I didn't have. I felt like a clown. I hated it. I just wanted to know why it was different this game than all the rest."

    Zaborniak e-mailed a letter on Monday morning to Colonel White that confirms Martin is eligible to play. An official himself for 31 years, Zaborniak said he had never encountered a situation like this one.

    "We've had players who are blind, players who are deaf, players who play without an arm, players who play wearing a prosthesis ... in all those cases, the school needs to get ahold of (the OHSAA).

    "But there's nothing in the rulebook that accounts for this."
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  5. #4
    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Jun 2000
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Re: An Inspiration To All Of Us


    By Mark Gokavi

    Dayton Daily News

    DAYTON | On Wednesday, Bobby Martin did an interview with USA Today and talked to producers at Good Morning America. Today, he'll call back ESPN and CNN.

    After that, other state and national radio, newspaper and TV reporters await. But the Colonel White High School senior football player would like to share his story with one other media giant.

    "I wouldn't mind going on Oprah," Martin said. "She has a good show. I watch her."

    Born without legs, Martin gained attention this season for some limited varsity playing time.

    He received more attention when an officiating crew in Cincinnati mistakenly didn't allow him to play in the second half against Mount Healthy this past Friday. The state athletic association said Martin needs no special waiver but sent a letter to Dayton Public Schools stating that Martin is eligible.

    Martin said he was told the USA Today article would be in Friday's edition. He said he likely will fly to New York in the next two weeks to be on Good Morning America.

    Despite misplacing his cell phone, Martin is fielding requests from everywhere. He said he's glad his story is expanding.

    "I like it," Martin said Wednesday while watching Colonel White's freshman football team play at Belmont. "I want people to know more about me not just locally, but nationally."

    His message will be clear.

    "If they see me somewhere, don't look like I'm strange or something, just know a little bit about me," Martin said. "Just look at me as a normal person, a regular person, knowing that I have no legs, but just don't see that in me."

    Sudden fame, if only fleeting, is something Bobby's mother said he will enjoy.

    "He's a ham, especially when it comes to people paying attention to him," said his mother, Gloria. She then laughed and said, "I guess he's handling it all right. I hope he doesn't get the big head."

    By Wednesday, Martin's story was a hot topic on WLW-AM (700). Many callers were inspired by his effort. But host Andy Furman said he felt Martin shouldn't play and called it a "freak show."

    Told that, Martin tried to call WLW. The phone line was busy several times and no one answered when it rang.

    "Mmmm, I'll prove 'em wrong," Martin said. "Come watch me play Saturday."

    Colonel White plays Belmont at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Welcome Stadium.

    While he plays sparingly on varsity he did have two late tackles against Valley View in Week 1 Martin is a regular in junior varsity games. Colonel White assistant coach Kerry Ivy said Martin had four solo tackles and seven overall (Martin estimated 10) in a recent junior varsity game.

    "They were trying to say (on radio) that he's making a mockery of the game," Ivy said. "One thing about it, he's not doing that. If you come out there and watch him play, he's out there to make plays. He makes plays better than a lot of guys with two feet."

    Gloria said most people in Dayton know her son's circumstances. When they go outside of the city, that's when the stares come.

    "One time I took him to Kings Island and they wouldn't let him ride any rides," Martin's mother said of a trip six years ago. "Things like that, you get sort of used to it after 17 years."

    Not surprisingly, Colonel White head football coach Earl White is more concerned about his team's unsatisfactory 1-3 record than Martin's fame. But the coach said the saga is not a distraction. He said it's a story worth national attention because Martin is playing a mainstream sport under amazing circumstances.

    "Bobby will be an inspiration to all other disabled kids," he said. "And to all kids for that matter."

    Being compared to all other players is what Martin likes. He'll share those thoughts with all the media outlets he talks to.

    "I'm a normal kid," Martin said. "I don't want anybody to feel any remorse for me."

    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

  6. #5
    Resident optimist OldRightHander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    east of WOY

    Re: An Inspiration To All Of Us

    I have seen quite a few highlights on tv showing him. There was one play where he got in the gap and made a tackle on a running back, just threw himself at the ball carrier with a reckless abandon and wrapped him up. It was quite impressive, especially when you consider the lack of legs.

  7. #6
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Bellefontaine, Ohio

    Re: An Inspiration To All Of Us

    Thanks for the pics sava. Reading this kid's story is simply an inspiration.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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