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In his own league

Sophomore wrestler overcomes amputation
Photo courtesy of Grant Gorman
Gorman pins his competitor at a dual despite having an amputated foot. “Being successful at doing something that I love is rewarding,” Gorman said. “Even with my amputation I continuously prove people wrong.”

Hitting the mat, sophomore Grant Gorman doesn’t conform to the stereotype of an amputee, but rather defies odds with each dual.

From the time Gorman was born, a diagnosis of congenital pseudarthrosis leading to a twisted leg and ankle slowed down his fast-paced adolescence. Rather than amputating at birth, doctors surgically straightened his leg out; however, with a metastasizing illness leaving his left foot dead, his condition ultimately led to the amputation of his left foot at the age of 4.

The procedure known as a syme amputation made it possible for Gorman’s leg to conform to his passion for athletics. Therefore, making it easy for him to walk on his limb with or without a prosthetic, while also changing his attitude of acceptance and perseverance.

“Having to relearn everything I was used to was a huge adjustment, even at such a young age,” Gorman said. “Adapting to a prosthetic was something unfamiliar, but I quickly adjusted to the new everyday normal.”

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Since the amputation, overcoming obstacles has never been something Gorman has strayed from but rather embraced head-on. Knowing he was different from the time he started wrestling only helped him triumph over challenges in his way, strengthening his mental and physical mindsets.

“When I first fell in love with wrestling at a special amputee camp, NubAbility, I quickly learned what most people would see as a disadvantage, was really an advantage,” Gorman said. “Throughout my years disciplining various techniques, I have learned to adapt when wrestling other competitors who have all their limbs, so I see my amputation as something to be proud of.”

Acknowledging his amputation as a gift has opened doors for Gorman while wrestling. Where most would think it would be a reckoning, Gorman has used his limb to help him in his stance and quickly catch opponents off guard by hooking his leg onto theirs. Although Gorman is only two years into the wrestling program, none of this came easily. Transforming himself into a leader amongst his teammates took many hours of control in preseason workouts, benefiting him in the four-month-long season.

“I have always been impressed by Grant’s work ethic and leadership skills,” wrestling coach Scott Townsley said. “The other coaches and I have never treated Grant differently, nor has he ever been asked to be treated differently. If a kid is willing to work, we will work with them, no matter who it is.”

Apart from his coaches, Gorman’s teammates have accepted him into their wrestling family. Respecting each other no matter the level of skill while embracing the Wildcat culture by looking up to one another has made bounds for their team.

“Seeing Grant wrestle at such a high level even with an amputated foot is something I could never do,” senior Harrell Jackson said. “Watching him grow as an athlete the two years I have known him is a testament to hard work and determination that the team and I continuously want for each other.”

Between both bravery and courage, Gorman has crushed boundaries in the high school wrestling field. Fueled by an undeniable love for sports, he will continue to raise awareness for not only amputees in athletics but for amputees everywhere.

This story was originally published on The Catalyst on February 21, 2024.