The next time you think that you've had quite a comeback, pause and reflect on Koni Dole.
Dole, a senior at Worden (Mt.) Huntley Project School, scored two touchdowns to help his team to a 45-0 rout of Joliet (Mt.) High. The two touchdowns might seem like a promising but underwhelming statistic until one considers this fact: Dole had his right leg amputated in late October 2012.
Less than a year later Doyle is back on the field, starting as both a fullback and defensive end for Huntley Project. In honor of his return, Dole was given the ball on Huntley Project's first offensive play of the season and promptly ran up the middle for 10 yards. At the end of that drive he punched the ball in from 1 yard out to give his squad a 6-0 lead. Dole scored a second touchdown, also from 1 yard out, in the second half.
"Just to overcome all this, and to be back on the field with my teammates, is probably the best feeling I've ever had," Dole told local reporters after the game. "That first time you step on the field after all that I've been through, I couldn't feel my body. I don't know. Just an indescribable feeling."
Dole now competes using a cheetah blade similar to the one used by South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious. So far it has done little to slow him or cheat the beefy senior of his power. Much of the credit for that belongs to Dole's work ethic immediately after his injury; he was back in the gym lifting weights just weeks after coming out of surgery where his leg was removed.
In fact, Dole didn't even wait until the 2013-14 school year to return to sports. Instead, he competed on the team's wrestling squad in the winter less than three months after his amputation.
Thanks to both his perseverance and talent, Dole has already been offered a preferred walk-on spot at Montana State to play football for the FCS college. Given his early results in 2013, one would be foolish to question Doyle's ability to compete at the next level.
"It kills me all the time,” Dole told the Billings Gazette. "It started hurting [mid-game], but it was nothing I couldn’t push through. The feeling of me being out there was overwhelming … taking my mind off the pain.
"I just didn’t let it hold me back."