As the wife of a current collegiate football coach who played in college, I know that there are few words to express the emotions surrounding Rutgers’ defensive tackle Eric LeGrand’s horrific injury this weekend. My heart goes out to Eric’s family and the Rutgers community – I sat through so many games when if my husband (boyfriend at the time) even slightly hesitated after a hit, I panicked, and yet the worst he suffered was a broken leg. In Kieran Darcy’s ESPN article about the incident, he quotes Rutgers’ head coach Greg Schiano:
“Eric, his family and the Rutgers football family believe he will recover,” said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. “We ask our fans and the entire Rutgers community to believe and pray for Eric as he begins the recovery process.”
For many football fans, this may bring back memories of the injuries sustained by Penn State cornerback Adam Taliaferro, or Buffalo Bills player Kevin Everett. Adam and Kevin, however, are back on their feet.
People may have varying opinions on the attributes of a successful athlete, but it is hard to deny that discipline, dedication, and a tremendous work ethic are at the core of what it takes to succeed. So when athletes face the life-altering challenge of paralysis, they depend on these attributes when faced with a completely new, unexpected training regimen. Because of Eric’s accident, I would like to offer the story of Matt Courson as a source of inspiration for Eric, the Rutgers community, and anyone else affected by paralysis. According to Matt, impossible is only a word, not a reality.
Matt Courson’s story is one of an inspirational and motivated All-State selection, 8AAA Pitcher of the Year, and collegiate pitcher who has faced the same life-altering challenge as Eric – paralysis. Yet Matt’s story is about more than his dedication and remarkable recovery. His outlook on life burns so bright that everyone he meets is taken with him, and he says that when he speaks and people tell him that they were helped by his story, “it is better than any strike-out, bigger than any baseball game you can play.” And what is phenomenal, is that when Matt graduates from college this Spring, he will get out of his wheelchair, and walk across the stage.