The Turnaround – A dream comes true

by Max Kattwinkel
Lubbock-Cooper High School Head Football Coach
Follow @MKattwinkel

Lubbock Cooper High School football helmetTwo really great things happened tonight at our JV game that I would like to share. Both of these things are the main reasons I coach.

We have a young man, Ryan Martinez, on our JV team that is physically challenged. I say challenged because the things Ryan deals with daily are just that: a challenge and not a handicap.

Editor’s Note: According to KCBD-TV, Ryan was born with a rare disorder called arthrogryposis, literally meaning “the curving of joints”.

Ryan has been out with us since preseason working on kicking. We were able to give this young man an opportunity to kick an extra point in a game for the first time this year in Wednesday night’s JV game against Lubbock. He deserved an opportunity for all his hard work.

Seeing that young man out there tonight and smiling was one thing I will not ever forget.

The other great thing I saw was the teamwork and support of Jason Strunk, his staff, and his JV team in order to help make this night possible for Ryan.

Ryan cannot have any contact and Jason and his staff worked to make sure there was no rush on the extra point. After the extra point, his team came over and congratulated our athlete. What a class act and program.

They put themselves second for the benefit of another, even in a competitive situation. How often do you see that in athletics and even in our society today? I’m proud to call Jason Strunk, a friend and a fellow coach.

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock High School Head Football Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

Lubbock High School football helmetTonight was a great night!

Our JV lost to Cooper 39-30. Great effort by our JV. They have battled all year. They keep losing players because we need to keep bringing them up to Varsity. But nonetheless, they keep battling.

But all of that doesn’t matter tonight. What matters tonight is a young man named Ryan Martinez was able to see his dream of playing in a football game come true. The Cooper kicker, who is physically challenged, attempted a PAT in a live game and in front of a large crowd.

Coach Kat approached me about it last week. I was on board from the start. Our kids were on board with it. The program was on board with it. Tonight a young man attempted something that took tremendous courage, strength and fortitude. He played in a football game. Playing in a football game is taken for granted by a lot of people. Our program and Cooper’s program learned a lot of lessons tonight from this remarkable kid.

I don’t have much else to say on this. All I can say is Max Kattwinkel and his program do it the right way. What a great guy he is. A terrific role model for everyone to look to. I am honored to call him a colleague, friend and peer. Kat is what is right about our profession. It’s all about kids and Kat hasn’t lost sight of that.

Seeing our kids and the Cooper kids mob Ryan Martinez after his PAT try is what high school sports are all about. Often times what matters is overlooked. That wasn’t the case in Lubbock, Texas tonight. The game definitely stood tall tonight.

I can go to bed with a smile on my face.

Editor’s Note: For the last three years, Jason Strunk has been writing The Turnaround for us at High School Football America. His blog receives tremendous attention from our readers, especially coaches from around America. This week, Coach Strunk had the interesting idea to bring-in Lubbock-Cooper High School head coach Max Kattwinkel as a guest blogger this week.  Kattwinkel, who is in his second year as head coach after serving as Lubbock-Cooper’s offensive coordinator for six years, just happens to be his opponent/nemisis this week. It’s another example of how Coach Strunk strives to shed light on not only his program, but others in west Texas.  Coming into the Thursday night game, Cooper is 5-2 overall and 1-0 in Texas’ District 4-5A.  Lubbock will be looking for its first district win in 2014.

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.