Football provides confidence for a Midland special needs athlete - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Football provides confidence for a Midland special needs athlete

Before you know it, we'll be counting wins and losses. 

But sometimes the game teaches us a lot about life.

Brings special athletes to the forefront, reminding us, its just a game.

That special athlete roams the halls of Midland High school

Ready go, don't look at me. Stay square Nick. (sounds from practice).

Nick Hurst is one of just two seniors on the Midland football team.


"Ready, Go!!1. Squeeze. (more sounds from practice)

An active student in the classroom.

"Go ahead and read it again Nick. (instruction from his history teacher)

"Objects created and used by humans are called artifacts."

A friendly face in the hallways.

"Hi Ms. Bowen. 

How are you Nick?

I'm on the news tonight.

You are? That's awesome.

Nick has worked hard to earn playing time.

Use a three technique, or a one. (more sounds from practice).

But his path has not been an easy one.

Ready, go. Whistle blows. (more sounds from practice.)

He does have autism. He does have trouble with social skills and making deep connections with people, he wants to but it's like those social rules don't make sense to him,"Nick's mom and school counselor Karen Hurst said,

But football has brought Nick out of his shell. 

We find Nick in the hallways of Midland High School, exchanging high-fives with a teammate.

"Great job at practice today buddy."

"Thank you."

How are you?

"Good job with you too. I'm doing great."

This is the biggest season of my life. 

"He's matured from the ninth grade year to now, but he does have a crazy personality, it's an awesome personality, he's Nick. That's all I can say, he's Nick," Midland football coach TJ Pugh said.

And I saw the personality when I tried miking Nick up.

"You've got an interesting accent. "

Did you notice that?

"It kind of sounds England-ish."

England-ish?

Although football has been instrumental for Nick's success, there were early concerns.

"I wasn't even for sure from a standpoint as a manager that we could really pull that off,"

 Pugh said.

"It was a little scary because you don't want your kid to get hurt," Hurst said. 

"Ready, set go." (more sounds from practice)

"He compares in size and sometimes is bigger than most of his opponents so really it's not that big of a deal."

:"I remember when he first started the team he really wasn't self confident. He was more like I couldn't do this, I couldn't do this, and ever since he joined football and seen what he really could do, you never hear him say no. Hey Nick can you do this? I got you," teammate Josh Gay added.

"Student council will be raffling off...(Nick doing morning announcements)

It's amazing to see how football has allowed Nick to do so many big things in life.

"What I wanted for him in joining the football team was to have a series and a set of friends that he can depend on because that's what happens in a team," Hurst said,

"His self confidence, his self-esteem, he's driving a vehicle now, he bought a kayak. I'm not for sure he does all this if he doesn't have something he's building on," Pugh said.

Heard you got your drivers license?

"Yes, yeah, not a lot of special needs students or people are able to drive but especially the severely disabled, but yes I do have my drivers license," a smiling Nick said.

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