Prosthetic leg not stopping athlete from playing semi-pro footba - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Prosthetic leg not stopping athlete from playing semi-pro football

Posted: Updated:

On an afternoon in mid-March you would not expect to watch a football practice. Much less, a semi-professional football team practice.

But in Mount Hope, you get just that. Men ages 18 to 45 all gather to continue to play the game they love, for the West Virginia Storm.

"Guys that haven't played football in 10 to15 years, and then we have guys that just graduated that come out," said Gary Hinte, one of the Storms' players.

From federal officers to high school principals, former college athletes to recent high school graduates, the team is full of diversity. Donald Mays, a player with cerebral palsy, is one of the athletes that makes the team so unique.

"He came and asked me, coach, can I play? I'm no person to deny him, I'm going to put him out there. If he thinks he's safe, he's going to be out there also," said general manager Jason Williams on letting Mays play.

Despite limited use of his right arm, Mays plays a threat on the field. In one of the pre-season scrimmages he showed defensive toughness when he sacked the opposing quarterback.

Another amazing player who has overcome hurdles to participate is James Swafford, who plays with a prosthetic leg.

Defensive Coordinator Daniel Ball expressed his feelings about Mays and Swafford. "I think God put that on their shoulders for a reason, so that kids maybe going through something can watch these guys come out and do something they love and won't give up. Maybe they will come out and do something they love and that's what makes it special to me."

Swafford lost his leg while working in the coal mines, and even after the incident, he went back to work in the mines.

Since then he's found a bigger calling. He is now employed by Beckley Orthotics and Prosthetics. He tests prosthetic legs so others can overcome hardships and not give up what they love.

"Hopefully if they see me you know, that's what I want, I want people to see me do it, and give them the drive and determination to do it," said Swafford.

While this team is inspiring, they're also intimidating. The goal is winning and this Storm is brewing. Their first game is April 5th at 7:30 in Mount Hope.

  • White Sulphur Springs weather is a big change from Saints facility is Metairie, Louisiana

    White Sulphur Springs weather is a big change from Saints facility is Metairie, Louisiana

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:51:47 GMT
    Day five of the New Orleans Saints training camp at the Greenbrier brought much different temperatures than the Saints are used to at their home site in Louisiana.Long sleeves, long pants, and even some jackets could be spotted at training camp. Not your typical summer day in West Virginia with unseasonal highs for this time of year, and far from what the Saints are used to."When you start to sweat and then the wind blows you're like, oh we aren't in Louisiana are we? There's a little bit of ...
    Day five of the New Orleans Saints training camp at the Greenbrier brought much different temperatures than the Saints are used to at their home site in Louisiana.Long sleeves, long pants, and even some jackets could be spotted at training camp. Not your typical summer day in West Virginia with unseasonal highs for this time of year, and far from what the Saints are used to."When you start to sweat and then the wind blows you're like, oh we aren't in Louisiana are we? There's a little bit of ...
  • Saints battle for positions at training camp

    Saints battle for positions at training camp

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:34 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:34:02 GMT
    It was the second day of practice with pads and through there's still no full contact, the addition brings a level of intensity."It's always a little different to come out here and hit, but that's how you have to prepare for football. Football is a physical game so you have to practice in pads," said tight end Benjamin Watson.For the players, the competition is just beginning. Some competing for a spot on the roster, others for a starting job."It's definitely a competition, I mean we are both...
    It was the second day of practice with pads and through there's still no full contact, the addition brings a level of intensity."It's always a little different to come out here and hit, but that's how you have to prepare for football. Football is a physical game so you have to practice in pads," said tight end Benjamin Watson.For the players, the competition is just beginning. Some competing for a spot on the roster, others for a starting job."It's definitely a competition, I mean we are both...
  • Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and company hit the Greenbrier fields for the first day of camp

    Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and company hit the Greenbrier fields for the first day of camp

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:16:11 GMT
    The team took to the two grass fields at the Greenbrier Friday morning.Jimmy Graham is the big name coming into camp after the tight end signed a four year, $40 million deal with the team.Graham alongsideQuarterback Drew Brees, who's starting his 9th year with the Saints, make one dynamic duo. But, Brees knows it takes more than names on a roster to make a good season."We know what we look like on paper, we look pretty good on paper. But, now we have to go out and put it together and put toge...
    The team took to the two grass fields at the Greenbrier Friday morning.Jimmy Graham is the big name coming into camp after the tight end signed a four year, $40 million deal with the team.Graham alongsideQuarterback Drew Brees, who's starting his 9th year with the Saints, make one dynamic duo. But, Brees knows it takes more than names on a roster to make a good season."We know what we look like on paper, we look pretty good on paper. But, now we have to go out and put it together and put toge...