Mart Student Overcomes Rare Condition to Play FootballOct. 13, 2010
If you sat and watched the Mart Panthers football team practice after school on a typical afternoon, you'd see one of the area's most successful programs go through the motions that lead to victory on Friday night. As a 1A school, you'd see a small roster with a lot of talent. You also might notice one young player standing off to the side from time to time. He practices for awhile, then stands over to the side for a few minutes in his gold-colored practice jersey while his teammates keep going. Freshman Chase Wade does this because he has to. It's a small price to pay for a player who didn't think he'd play at all. Born with a rare heart condition, he and his stepmother, Shea Wade, explain why the odds were against him.
Having two valves means his heart works harder than most, and is more fragile. It also meant he couldn't over-exert himself like a normal boy would. Specifically, he couldn't do what he wanted most heading out of elementary school--play football.
Sitting on the sidelines would be tough for any child who has to watch other kids do things they can't. And as one of three brothers in a set of sixteen year old triplets, it was difficult to deal with limitations that others around you didn't. He did as much as he could with his brothers, Tyler and Lane, but had to be closely monitored in the Texas heat. That meant his brothers got to play middle-school football, but he didn't. His brother Tyler said it was tough, but that Chase has always showed the spirit that allowed him to overcome his limitations.
So last year, when he and his brothers moved back in with their dad, just a few blocks away from Mart High School, he wasn't going to take no for an answer. It didn't happen right away and looked like it might not. But he made sure his coaches knew what he wanted right away. The staff was impressed.
That's Mart head coach Rusty Nail. He stayed in touch with Chase as he continued to await word from his cardiologist, Chase hoping and praying that there would be a way he could get clearance. While worried about the ramifications of playing football, Chase's dad Robert remembers something he was told when his son was very young.
And deal with it they did. With some specifics to follow, Chase's 8th grade year got a major boost when the cardiologist cleared him to play. Coach Nail said the coaches have to pay a little more attention, but it's well worth it to have him out there.
Those practices prepare him to play on Thursday nights as a member of the freshman team. His goal is Friday nights. He's not on varsity yet, but don't count the player with 2/3 of the normal heart capacity out. Coach Rusty Nail, who knows what it takes to be successful on the football field, sums it up best. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.