EDMOND — If the Oklahoma Christian School football team needs inspiration this season, the Saints don't have to look any further than the right side of their offensive line.
Guard Cole Hatchel is a cancer survivor. Tackle Christian Aduddell is diabetic. They have overcome more obstacles than most just to get the opportunity to play high school football.
“We've had to fight just to be out here,” Aduddell said. “It means a whole lot to us to get to play Friday nights and see those lights and the fans.”
Aduddell and Hatchel are a “great inspiration” to the rest of the team, said Saints coach Derek Turner.
“They don't let any of their physical problems hold them back,” Turner said. “Half of the time the other kids don't even remember they have a problem.”
It's only when the two linemen take off the pads that their medical issues become noticeable: the place on Aduddell's side for the insulin pump and the physical scars on Hatchel's chest from a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and subsequent chemotherapy treatments.
Aduddell learned he was diabetic on his 12th birthday. He monitors his blood sugar during games and keeps needles on the sidelines in case he needs an insulin shot.
“I've had to take shots a few times,” he said.
Sometimes at halftime, he will reconnect his insulin pump. While some athletes wear the insulin pump while they play, it's not feasible in football, Turner said.
“Christian, you have to keep an eye on him because ever once in a while you will see that glazed look in his eyes and he will be wandering a little bit,” Turner said.
At age 5, Hatchel was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He beat the disease with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Hatchel went into remission in 2000 but has had other serious medical issues since.
In the fourth grade, doctors discovered a tumor on his optic nerve. Two weeks after the discovery, doctors told Hatchel the tumor had miraculously disappeared. Still, Hatchel was left with vision problems in his left eye and migraines later in life.