Player Beats the Odds to Play Football
He's 5 foot 6 inches, 100 pounds. But his small stature is the only thing small about what junior wide receiver Alexander Johnston brings to the Southern Boone football team.
"He never expects us to do anything different. I throw him the ball just like any of the other receivers. I expect him to catch it just like any of the other ones, and he does it," Southern Boone Wide Receivers Coach Rodney Keuck said.
"Walking around school, hearing about how hard their day was, and compared to mine I say wow, that's nothing. So I decided to do something about it and join the football team and see how its like," Alexander Johnston said.
Playing the wide receiver position can be tough enough. But Alexander has never even been able to use the tools that most wide receivers hold dearest: Alexander was born with no hands. But he hasn't let it get to him. He can do everything from tying his shoes, to putting his pads on, to stepping out on the football field.
"He doesn't let anything get to him anyways, but just to know that he has the support of the players and coaches behind him just adds to it," Southern Boone Junior Defensive End Jaron Egbe said.
"At my first practice, I was really nervous on how the other football teams would look at me and treat me but they've been amazing," Johnston said.
Adversity is nothing new to Johnston. In fact, its all around him every day. Alexander doesn't know his biological parents. He was born in Russia and lived in a Russian orphanage for nine years. When he was adopted by a couple in Ashland seven years ago, he found himself living with 18 brothers and sisters.
"When I lived in an orphanage I lived with 30 other people, so its not really that much of a difference," Johnston said.
One of those brothers, Ethan, is blind. And believe it or not, Ethan taught Alexander how to play football.
"And ever since, I just fell in love with it," Johnston explained.
"You know, God throws all kinds of things our way and a lot of times we decide to pout about them or focus on the bad, but when you see a kid like Alexander, you know its easy to focus on the good if you let yourself do it," Southern Boone Head Football Coach Mike Hall said.
Alexander is small for a wide receiver. But his heart, determination, and will proves there's nothing small about him. After high school, Alexander wants to play college football and enter a career in law enforcement.
His Southern Boone Eagles will play their final game of the season Thursday against Blair Oaks.