CI Sports Report with Elise Menaker: Beating the odds

CI Sports Report with Elise Menaker: Beating the odds

Athletes understand what you gain from sports, not necessarily the medals or the wins, but what they learn, what sports teach them about life.  In this week's Central Illinois Sports Report with Elise Menaker meet one athlete who personifies what sports are all about.

This is Nathan Marshall after, after he worked hard for 16 years, after he never gave up.  This is before, braces on his legs for several years because as a baby he was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy.

"It meant I would never be normal," Nathan explained.  "It meant wouldn't be like everyone else out there playing the game as well as they did."

His condition affects the right side of his body, like Nathan's heel cord, moved from the back of his ankle to the side of his leg which turns his foot slightly in.

"So it's harder to walk sometimes," Nathan said.  "Sometimes i trip over it, fall.  And also my right arm.  Sometimes it's not as strong."

It was never certain if or to what extent nathan could play sports but one thing was for sure.

"He has always just loved sports," said Bryan Marhsall Nathan's dad.

Since he was a little boy, playing with his friends.

"It all started in his backyard we would always play wiffle ball," said Austin Brown Nathan's friend.  "Like every day I was over there.  No matter what i was doing I would drop my plans and go play wiffle ball."

He's had setbacks, "I always tried to help him a little bit because he obviously wasn't as good as everyone else but I always tried to help him and when people would put him down I would always tell them, 'he has cerebral palsy you can leave him alone he's just trying his best,'" Austin described.

But now he's on an equal playing field as a member of the JV baseball and basketball team at Argenta-Oreana high school.

"I treat him like any other player," said baseball coach Tim Young.  "He plays as well as anyone else and he's a big part of the team just like the rest of the guys on the team."

Nathan may not run as fast or score as much, but like good athletes, he's determined, hates to lose, never takes no for an answer.

"A lot of times it was the last thing I'd wanted to do and he's like, 'Dad, we're playing catch.  Dad, we're playing catch.' and we were playing catch," Bryan said with a smile.

And he's smart, "Kind of what God took away from him in physical ability he's kind of given him in the understanding of sports," his dad said.

And all of those small moments that you may take for granted, to Nathan: "When I got my first high school hit, I thought that was pretty cool and then this year in basketball probably when I scored for the first time after not scoring all last year."

They're moments to remember.

"Maybe the happiest day I remember: He called me one day at work, eighth grade he had gone to the first day of practice and he called me and said, 'Dad, I need to get a physical tonight.'  I'm like, 'Why do you need a physical?' he said, 'Because coach young told me I can't be the manager this year I'm going to be on the team,'" his dad described.

Because sometimes the biggest hit isn't one you can measure at all.

While Nathan's working toward having more than one hit in baseball and scoring more than two points in basketball in a season, he said his goal is to better himself.
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