From Sidelines to Headlines

Two years after the football injury that ultimately took his leg, Colton Ward takes the field again.


Photo by: Ashton Brewer

Ward plays his first varsity football game after two years of recovery.

After two years of watching from the sidelines, Colton Ward is finally getting his chance to be on the football field again. In August of 2015 Ward sustained a serious knee injury at freshman football practice that ultimately resulted in the amputation of his lower right leg.

“Just to see all the work and pain that he’s been through, for him to be able to get on the field again was very special,” head football coach Marc Bindel said.

Ward’s big debut to the Rider football team was met with overwhelming support from the fans. As he ran onto the field, the crowd erupted into cheers and a chant of “Colton! Colton! Colton!” Among those cheering for him was senior Taylor McCoy, a friend that Ward considers to be his biggest fan. Seeing him take such a big step moved her to tears.

“It was just so overwhelming,” she said. “Whenever they called his name I was so proud. I was so happy for him.”

As a freshman, McCoy tore her ACL and seeing Ward overcome his struggles pushes her to work harder in order to become a college athlete.

“Just because you have a struggle doesn’t mean you give up,” she said,  “he gives me inspiration.”

McCoy isn’t the only person Ward inspires. Senior Charlie McBride said he has been touched by this story as well.

“From my heart, it’s a true story of hope and inspiration and that when life hits rock bottom he never gave up,” McBride said. “Every time I saw Colton he always had a smile on his face. The guy doesn’t have a freaking leg and he still lives life to the absolute fullest.”

At times, Ward’s perseverance gives McBride the perspective he needs to carry on when the going gets tough.

“It’s really humbling and it’s something that a lot of people can learn from”, he said. “When life throws a curveball at you there is always hope and you can always bounce back stronger than you were before.”

Ward’s story is certainly one of true character. Principal Dee Palmore can attest to that.

“Throughout this ordeal, if the doctor told him it would take six weeks, Colton did it in three,” Palmore said. “When he had his leg amputated the doctor said ‘You’ll be here [hospital] a minimum of six to eight days.’ In four days Colton was at his house. Whatever they have told him, he has over-achieved.”

While Ward’s drive is fueled by his aspirations of becoming a college football player, his team has played a big role as well.

“I wanted to get back out there, but it was more about the team,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about two people, it’s not about a few people, it’s about the whole team. It’s proving that if one person can do this, what can our whole team do. If one person can go through all that, what can the team accomplish.”