Patch sophomore an inspiration for teammates
October 20, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany — One of Patch High School’s junior varsity football players makes a lot of receptions one-handed, but it’s not because he’s showboating.
Although 15-year-old Anthony Coltson was born with a left arm that ends just a few inches below his elbow, he is out on the gridiron catching passes as a tight end and wide receiver.
In fact, his friends and family say his tenacity more than makes up for the birth defect, and he is able to do most everything other boys his age can.
Besides playing football, Coltson participates in ice hockey, baseball and soccer. He also plays guitar and participates in the high school’s Junior ROTC program. This summer he completed ROTC camp, which involved obstacle courses that included rappelling, cave diving, canoeing and a confidence course.
“His heart is in the right place, and he’s an inspiration to the other players” said Norman Matzke, Patch’s junior varsity coach and its ROTC instructor.
“I don’t believe he has missed a single practice — and that category only has a handful of players in it.”
Coltson’s coaches don’t cut him any slack, and never missing a practice doesn’t make him a shoo-in for the starting lineup. He is currently on the JV’s second string and also plays on special teams.
Coltson, a 5-foot-2, 110-pound sophomore, doesn’t expect to be treated any differently. He learned to tie his shoes by the time he was in kindergarten. He has daily chores like his three younger siblings. And his parents have always encouraged him to do what all the other kids do.
“They are like ‘Go for it,’ ” Coltson said. “They have always been there for me.”
Coltson owns four different prosthetic arms. Each has a specific use, such as allowing him to hold a hockey stick for a slap shot, swing a baseball bat or to grab everyday items. His father even made a custom guitar pick holder out of a dog collar and other household items so he could learn to play the guitar.
He does not use any of the arms on the football field, relying on his right hand and his short left arm to haul in passes.
“[His lack of a forearm] is not an obstacle to him,” said David Owen, 16, one of Coltson’s teammates. “I went to football camp with him, and he was one of the top receivers. All the coaches were really impressed with him.”
Matzke said that Coltson has two receptions, both for first downs, as the JV prepares for Saturday’s season finale against undefeated Heidelberg. He also said that “Anthony has done a great job in his blocking assignments as a tight end .”
Succeeding on the football field fits Coltson’s philopsophy and outlook on life.
“Just do what you do best, don’t let anyone put you down and keep on trying the best you can,” he said as he offered advice for anyone who may be dealing with challenges of their own.
Growing up, Coltson learned to deal with his differences with a sense of humor instead of lashing out at those who might have been insensitive or cruel. And his good humor is still apparent at practice and school, said his friends and coaches.
“I remember the first time I met Anthony,” said Rich Fields, Patch’s JV assistant coach. “He came up to me and said, ‘Coach. Coach. I got a problem.’ ”
“When I asked, ‘What?’ He just told me, ‘I’m missing a limb.’ So he has a sense of humor about it.
“He is unstoppable, his attitude is great, and attitude is 99 percent of the game.”