Last winter, we brought you the story of then D.C. Everest junior Alex Stumpner, whose battle with a rare skin disease prevented him from playing football for the last four years.
D.C. Everest Senior Alex Stumpner holding a kick on August 30. 2019 (WSAW)
Now, we bring you his tale of triumph, and overcoming the odds.
"You know it was always that mentality of come hell or high-water, I will play football my senior year."
Scleroderma prevented Alex Stumpner from putting on a helmet and shoulder pads for four years. Until July, when he received a doctor’s note that changed that for good.
"It was crazy, it was just surreal,” said Stumpner. “Being 17, and in my last year of high school football, I finally get to experience it fully in the way I've always wanted to."
The disease affected the development of Stumpner's lower left leg and ankle area, and also gives him problems with skin coming back together and circulation.
"If it broke, it would shatter, and they could fix it, but it would be a very long process. And there's a good chance the leg wouldn't be functional."
The solution for Stumpner to play, was to hold kicks.
However, that presented a new problem for him. He had always worn number 52, the same number his father wore when he played high school football. However, 52 is not an eligible number for a holder.
"I want to push myself to be better than what my dad was,” sad Stumpner. “I never really got that chance. So I wore 52 as a reminder of the promise that I made, but would never get to keep."
He wanted his new number to have true meaning, and he landed on 19.
“I looked at the calendar, and it was 2019, that's when the season starts. That's completion."
Completion included Stumpner taking the field in the Evergreens' season opener at Appleton East. Even if he doesn't play another snap the rest of the year, he can feel fulfilled with his journey.
"It doesn't matter how much I play. I just, I did what I wanted to do."
As for where he wants football to take him beyond high school?
"To the professionals. I want to be a coach in the NFL. I want to do football for the rest of my life. I love it, I absolutely love it."