October 13, 2010

One-armed receiver inspires town

Maybe it doesn't sound like much that Chance Anthony, the top receiver for Breckinridge County High in Kentucky, can bench press 235 pounds. But then you consider that the kid only weighs 157 pounds.

Oh, and did we mention he only has one arm?

Chance surprised his coaches with his ability.
Chance was born missing the lower half of his right arm, and that day in the hospital, the doctors made a prediction: His parents would miss that arm more than their newborn son ever would.

He proves that prophecy correct every day. Chance starts at receiver and linebacker for Breckinridge, leading the team with 15 catches for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns.

"For me, I just want to be like everybody else," said Chance, who also plays guard for the basketball team. "It's no big deal for me. Other people look up to me for it, but for me, it's just something I live with."

It is that kind of attitude that makes Chance a natural nominee for the second annual High School Rudy Award, which honor inspirational football players who best define what Rudy refers to as the Four Cs: Character, Courage, Contribution and Commitment.

"Chance is the type of player that every coach dreams of having on his team," assistant coach Brent Hottell wrote in nominating Chance for the award. "He is always the first person on the practice field and is willing to do whatever is asked of him to help the team. With all of the things that he has accomplished during his high school career you would never know that he was born with only one arm."

Breckinridge coach Scott Mooney said caught his first glimpse of that arm in action across the weight room one day. He saw a bench-press bar tilted dangerously in one direction, and fearing that somebody would get hurt, rushed across the room and started yelling.

"When I saw it, it was just a foot-in-mouth moment," Mooney said. In order to bench press, Chance supports most of the weight with his hand and balances the other half of the bar on the end of his right arm.

"I was fixing to get on somebody for being unsafe," the coach said, "and what was going on was, here was a kid who had every excuse in the world not to do the bench press doing his workout. I knew he was special then.

"I told the entire team, 'People will think I'm a fool for starting a one-armed receiver, but I could care less. This young man wants to do things and he will be a starter on this football team.'"

Chance rarely wears his prosthetic arm. His family has a nickname for the end of his right arm - "Nubby" - and there isn't much the missing right hand keeps Chance from doing.

He is an excellent rifle shooter. He can shift gears on a trail bike with Nubby. His mother remembers seeing him one day, driving like a typical teenager with his left arm hanging out the window.

"I said to him, 'Chance, you're supposed to have both hands on the wheel,'" his mother Deborah said. "'And you've only got one. Use it!'"

Deborah bought a small ad in the football program this year that said, "Nub 'em good, Chance!" In basketball, he figures Nubby is an advantage on defense. "The referee can't really tell how hard he's nubbing him," Deborah Anthony said.

Her son will also draw a smiley face at the end of Nubby for games. "If somebody's playing man to man," Chance said, "you can at least make them laugh and try to catch them off guard that way."

Chance is more than just a jock with a sense of humor. He has a 3.6 GPA and is one of the more popular students in school. At a recent girls' volleyball game, Breckinridge was playing a team nicknamed the Hornets, so Chance borrowed his father's bee keeper mask and got some of his friends to dress up as a hive.

Many families in Breckinridge County, a rural area in eastern Kentucky about 40 miles north of Lexington, are struggling in the economy, but Mooney said Chance's success was a source of pride in the community.

"Chance Anthony," Mooney said, "is a young man who is helping us reach our potential. He inspires our coaches. He inspires our players. He's not just a football player with one arm. He's a good kid."

The High School Rudy Award was started in 2009 by TrustedSports.com to honor athletes who have overcome tremendous obstacles to not only find success on the playing field but also serve as an inspiration to others. Do you know of a student-athlete worthy of consideration? Nominate them here.


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