The Times West Virginian

Sports

October 29, 2013

Young athlete provides big inspiration

FAIRMONT — We could all use a little hope.

When you flip on the television in today’s world, the channels are filled with news of robberies, deaths and government shutdowns. When a feel-good story comes along, we should grab ahold of it and treasure it.

Last week in Parkersburg, one of those stories happened.

Zach Hamilton is a student at Hamilton Middle School. According to his mother, Tonya Moyer, Zach has been playing football since the age of 7 or 8. Moyer explained that her son has hearing loss, low muscle tone and autism. Students with those issues can oftentimes have trouble adapting socially and mentally in a school setting. Moyer, along with Zach’s therapist, came up with a lasting solution: football.

After playing for a few years, Zach moved into middle school and his mother was worried that the team would scowl at the mention of a kid with autism playing football. She was delightfully wrong.

“I was afraid they’d say no, but they welcomed him,” Moyer said.

Zach has since joined the team and gets a chance to play in every game, Moyer said. And he loves it.

“He isn’t a starter, but he gets in every game,” said Moyer. “He has gotten used to hitting; he is a giant. He hasn’t quite grasped the concept of what he is to do.”

While Zach is just happy to be out on the field with his teammates, he has aspirations of bigger goals and his mother says he’s well on his way and is capable.

“He says he doesn’t want to hurt his friends so he isn’t quite as aggressive as I know he can be,” Moyer said. “I’ve seen him playing with his brothers and toss them across the room easily. If only we could get it through his head that’s what he needs to do on the field.”

As if the simple fact that this gentle giant Zach stands 6-foot-2 and with a tender heart plays football wasn’t enough, his football team made one great gesture for their team player.

When the Hamilton Wild Cats took the field Oct. 17 for their last game of the season, they had one goal: to get Zach into the end zone.

After trying and somehow failing in the first half, the opposing team’s coach took notice. The coaches worked something out that allowed Zach to run the ball and be surrounded by his teammates as he scored his first touchdown of his playing career.

Moyer said she was just as surprised as everyone else.

“It was a total surprise,” she said. “I couldn’t even take pictures or tape it. I was so shocked. I just sat with my hands over my mouth, crying in surprise and joy.”

Zach was given the game ball and was given the chance to celebrate with his teammates during and after the game.

The team has really embraced Zach, Moyer said.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” she said. “I’ve seen a nonverbal child blossom into a somewhat verbal teen.”

Moyer said the opportunity for her son has been equally important for his mental and social development.

“It has helped him physically with the low muscle tone, and has been a barrier breaker socially in helping him communicate both with his teammates and coaches and has helped him feel more ‘normal.’ He is always excited to get on the field and, win or lose, he is happy to be a part of the team. I believe it’s helped his teammates, as well, to understand that he and other kids aren’t necessarily odd or weird, just a little different.”

We could all learn something from this young man. He doesn’t let something like autism stop him from being part of something he enjoys doing. When the doctor told him that he’d never play sports at first, it could have crushed his spirits.

But it didn’t.

Zach and his mother have been fighting a battle they have been winning so far, and Zach plans to continue winning the battle. The athlete plans to join the football team in high school when he moves on.

While he continues to make strides in his own life, we should do the same and make strides to overcome the things we let stand in our way.

So thank you, Zach, for being a great role model for those who need a little inspiration.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 2014

  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG Post 17 falls short in Area II championship

    Sometimes getting a bad game out of your system is what a team needs.
    Post 17 Fairmont is hoping that they’ve now gotten all of its bad games out of the way, falling to Post 2 Morgantown, 10-0, via a 7th inning mercy rule, crowning Morgantown Area II American Legion champions.
    After playing 18 innings the night before, Fairmont couldn’t seem to get anything going at East Fairmont High School Sunday afternoon.
    As rain clouds loomed over the field, so, too, did one settle in over Post 17’s offense, Fairmont collecting just four hits the entire game.
    “Definitely not one of our better games as a team,” Fairmont’s Austin Norman said of his team’s performance. “We’ll come up tomorrow, hit and get on the same page.”

    July 28, 2014 7 Photos

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos