As most of you know, in addition to editing the Central Florida Top 5, I also have the honor of teaching sixth grade English at Park Maitland School. In my 14th year of teaching there, I have had the many proud moments when I hear about my former students going out into the world and doing great things:
- Publishing an original short story in a magazine
- Becoming valedictorian of their senior class
- Heading to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford
- Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity
- Being accepted into med school
- Accepting a college football scholarship
- Claiming national debate championships
- Starting on the Men’s Basketball Team at the Univ. of Florida which claimed not one, but two national titles
While I am always pleased to hear about my students, one of my proudest moments came just last night, though, when I heard former student Nate Winters was pitching in his baseball game. I taught both Nate and his older brother Zach, who while they were reserved in the classroom, they were both quite accomplished writers.
Even then I knew of their shared love of baseball. Both boys played, and I could imagine one or the other growing up to be a sportswriter perhaps. Now why would I be so proud of Nate pitching? Well, here’s an excerpt from a news article about him:
His left leg was shredded beyond repair. His right Achilles tendon was sheared and two toes were lost. His buttocks were sliced, and ribs were broken. His femoral artery burst, almost immediately turning the water crimson. Before he lost consciousness, he somehow swam toward the boat, where he was pulled back aboard. His brother wisely found a ski rope to make a tourniquet, calling 911 as they sped back to shore, fortunate that a hospital helicopter and a trauma center had been alerted.
When paramedics arrived, they put him in trauma trousers to help slow the bleeding. He thought it was a body bag, however, and started screaming again to remind everyone that he still was alive. By the time he reached the hospital, he had lost nearly 80 percent of his blood, and according to one trauma center doctor, it was more than anyone ever had lost, and still lived. He was whiter than the sheets he was laying on. When his parents arrived, they were escorted into the chaplain’s office to prepare for the worst. The doctors somehow saved him.
‘When your hemoglobin goes down to where Nate’s was, your chances of surviving are about one in 10,000,’ said his father, Tom Winters, an orthopedic surgeon. ‘He was just about dead.’
He spent the night on life support, miraculously awakening the next morning, discovering that close to 100 baseball friends and family had spent the night praying for him in the hospital waiting room.”
Of course, at school we all heard about the accident and Zach’s heroic life-saving actions, and we were all concerned for Nate. But knowing the Winters family, we knew he would get good, quality care and support. And, sure losing a leg is a heck of a lot better than losing a life…but still, that’s pretty tough for a teenage boy who loves sports.
Since that time, Nate has fought his way through nine surgeries. He has fought through the discomfort of adjusting to a prosthetic leg. He has fought through the embarrassment of losing his balance and falling off the mound. He has fought through wanting to quit the sport he has dedicated his life to.
Through it all he has maintained his grades, his sense of humor, and most of all, his humility. So, yes, Nate Winters makes me pretty darn proud!
You can read the full article about Nate here.