One High School quarterback from Hacienda Heights had his hopes of a sporting career dashed after he was hit during a game. His reaction to the tragic situation is quite surprising.
Nick Aguayo started September 28 like every other day, ready to do what he knows best: play football. Little did he know that his life was about to be changed forever.
Right before half-time, Nick took a hit that knocked him down and found himself unable to get up.
“I was envisioning myself trying to get up, but it was just all one side,” Nick told KTLA 5, adding:
“My right side of my body just gave out on me. I got blindsided, drove me straight to ground, and all I remember was, I felt the shock in the back of the neck.”
The young athlete was rushed to the hospital where, following a series of tests, doctors told him the dreadful news: he had spinal shock, and the right side of his body was paralyzed.
Nick, who also played basketball and ran track, recalled how painful to hear the diagnosis.
“I never try to think of anything negative. It sucked because they did tell me that most likely I’m never going to be able to play sports again.”
Nick was eventually transferred to a hospital in Pomona for rehabilitation, but it’s been quite challenging to make even the smallest movement.
Still, Nick is doing his best to stay positive. It also helps that his family is giving him all the support he needs as well. Nick’s dad, Robert Aguayo noted that “Everything happens for a reason,” and said they are all staying patient.
Despite his career-ending injury, Nick is determined to use his story to draw attention to inadequate safety measures for student-athletes. He plans to be an advocate for changes in the California Interscholastic Federation.
Nick and his father noted that the players on the team he was competing against on that September night were bigger than him.
“It’s for the safety of other athletes as well, because we don’t want anybody to be going against someone two, three times their size,” Nick said.
The young man has been focusing on keeping up with school work and making progress with his therapy. He refused to be bitter and welcomed the player who hit him when the latter visited him in the hospital.
Despite losing his college scholarship opportunities, and having to make new plans for the future, Nick insisted that he’s not angry at the other player because it’s a part of the game.
Like Nick, former High School quarterback, Tyler Schilhabel, was devastated when an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down at age 16. After many years of physical therapy, Tyler continued to use a wheelchair, but never let that define him.
"I never let the accident control me. I had a great support system here in town. From the school, from my family had some great influences in my life that really propelled me to where I am now."
Earlier in June, Tyler was announced as the head football coach for his alma mater, Independence High School, and the inspirational man observed:
"You have two choices, you can either fold and let the pressures of everything that is against you, crumble you and take you down. Or, you can make the choice to fight it and combat it with everything that you have.”