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
  • Post 17 #18-Post 1 #2  run copy.jpg Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tournament opener: PHOTOS

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.
    Felt struck out seven in 8.1 innings of work in the team’s first-round victory over Fairmont.

    July 31, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
    A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.

    July 31, 2014

  • Speedy Shazier making quick impression

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end. Others focused on his blazing speed and saw a safety.
    Not Shazier.

    July 31, 2014

  • Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tourney opener

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.

    July 30, 2014

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
    The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.

    July 30, 2014

  • Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers

    Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
    “This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots

    Two down, one big one to go.
    And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
    The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers Camp Footbal_time2.jpg Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
    Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings