How much impact can a high school athlete possibly have without ever taking the field? Meet Alex Stumpner, a junior at D.C. Everest, and you'll quickly find out.
Alex is a member of the evergreen's football and track and field teams, but he's not quite like the rest of his teammates.
Alex contracted scleroderma, a rare skin disease, when he was five.
It’s difficult to deal with no matter what, Alex’s case proved to be extreme.
Alex explains: "It got rooted so deep in my ankle bone, that it restricted bone growth, and muscle development, and certain parts of the structure”
Alex can still participate in track and field, but hasn't been able to actually play football in years because of his condition. Despite his struggles, Alex has found a way to make an impact with what he can control, mainly, intangibles.
"From the get-go, Alex has been one of the most motivated kids that we've had,” Evergreens track and field head coach Bill Franklin says. “From the first moment that I saw him in the weight room, hooting and hollering and raising everybody up."
Football head coach Tim Strehlow echoes those thoughts. "He doesn't miss sessions; he doesn't miss reps or anything like that on the football field. (In) 18 years that I’ve been around here, he's got one of the most outstanding work ethics that I’ve seen."
If you want proof of Alex’s work ethic, here’s some: Four days a week he gets to workouts before school at 6 a.m. then stays after school for workouts until almost 5 p.m. The stat sheet may not show it, but he's making a positive impact not just on the football team, not just on the track team, but on the culture of D.C. Everest high school overall.
Alex says, "I try to have a positive attitude, and I try to bring the attitude to everything that I do, and I take a lot of pride in that.”
Right now, Alex is laser focused on one goal in his athletic career.
"I would like to play football my senior year, I haven't been able to play for about four or five years,” Alex says. I just love it so much, it's so much fun."
"I would love to see him get that opportunity, to know that that's been his goal, that's what he's been working for,” Strehlow says. “You can see it in his face, his face lights up when he talks about it."
Alex knows he's not the only student-athlete dealing with a physical ailment, so what's his message to other's with similar struggles?
"Don't let it define you just because you look different, or because you can't do certain things, because you can do those things. Have that attitude that I may not outperform you, but I will outwork you."
Alex Stumpner may not shatter any state records, but he offers something much bigger than that. A reminder that with the right attitude, mindset, and work ethic, your loftiest goals are within reach, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome along the way.