Tragedy struck a Montana high school football player in October, when Koni Dole suffered a gruesome compound fracture in a football game that eventually required the amputation of the lower portion of his right leg. Less than two weeks later, that same teen is in the midst of an inspiring recovery, already back in the weight room and inspiring football players at a higher level in the process.
As the Billings Gazette reported, less than two weeks after he lost the lower half of his right leg, Billings (Mont.) Huntley Project teen Koni Dole was in attendance at the Rocky Mountain College football game against Carroll College. He was there to support his strength and development coach, Adam Husk, who also serves as the defensive line coach at Rocky Mountain.
Rocky didn't just show up and go through the motions in the game either, with the Bears pulling out a 31-28 victory in a hard fought game that Husk called "the best game I've ever seen Rocky play." There's a good reason why the victory was so notable, too: Entering the game, Rocky Mountain had lost 24 straight matchups with Carroll.
"I had a gut feeling Rocky was going to win, and wasn't going to miss it," Dole said. "I wanted to be there to support Coach Husk."
After the monumental win, Dole was introduced to the RMC team, which presented him with a Bears football jersey signed by every member of the team. According to the Gazette, the teen was also awarded the team's victory spear, handed out to the most influential player of the week. Dole hadn't competed in the Carroll win, but the team universally agreed that his presence on the sideline had helped push the squad to victory.
Incredibly, Dole didn't wait long to get back in the gym after the huge RMC win. Hours later, the teen was back in the weight room with Husk and his younger brother, Kai Dole. The Dole brothers plan to play together on the Huntley Project team in fall 2013, and both know that rigorous weight training will be a key to the elder Dole being able to be on the field next fall.
He'll also need an expensive athletic prosthetic to play football again, a piece of medical equipment that would set back the Dole's some $30,000. He might even need two different prosthetics to play football again. Area families have responded to that need by organizing a silent auction fund raiser and contributing to a recovery fund in the junior's name.
Still, both Dole brothers are confident that Koni will be back on the field in 2013, and that Husk will be right there to coach him through whatever adjustments he needs to make with his new, artificial limb.
"I look up to him, I always have and always will," Kai told the Gazette. "He is just an all-around great guy and is so motivational. It's my goal to be starting on the team with Koni next season.
"His injury isn't the end, it's only the beginning."