According to recognized aero-technical tests the bumblebee cannot fly because of the shape and weight of his body in relation to the total wing area.
But the bumblebee doesn’t know this, so he goes ahead and flies anyway.
David strolled down the central hall of his high school with only the slightest hint of a limp. If you didn’t know that he had an artificial leg, you probably wouldn’t even notice it. Not that it made any difference to David. He had been born with only one leg, so to him it was business as usual.
At a young age, David had come to grips with his infirmity. His parents had never treated him like he was different. In fact, to the contrary, they were always very supportive of anything he wanted to try. As such, he had tried a lot of things. As his body matured, he went through a series of prosthetic legs. Each required some adjustment to their fit, but none of them created any great problem. Before long, he would be walking much as he did today.
There were of course things that David wanted to do that appeared to be beyond his means. The greatest of those was to play football. He attended every school game and could quote stats from the NFL teams from memory. He loved the game and, if there was one thing he resented, it was probably his inability to play. The closest he had come to participating in a physical team sport had been in middle school when he had played soccer. He had enjoyed it, even though his ability was compromised. He knew he would never be a great player as he could only kick with his good leg while balancing on the artificial one. But just the fact that he got to be part of a team gave him a sense of belonging. And, just as he did with everything he tried, he threw himself into becoming the best he could be.
That had been three years ago however, and since then, he had pretty much been reduced to the role of a spectator and he didn’t like it a bit. The competitive spirit burned within him. There had to be something he thought, and he was determined to find it.
It was while attending one of those Saturday afternoon football games that a thought came to him. His team had scored a touchdown and was attempting an extra point. When the ball was snapped and placed, the ensuing kick curved wide left. “I could have done better then that” he mused absently. And there it was. He could do better then that. When he played soccer, the one thing he had been very good at was kicking the ball long and straight. Why couldn’t he do the same thing with a football. The idea wouldn’t go away and within a few days, he had talked his folks into buying him a football, a holding tee, and a practice net.
Every day after school, David dedicated himself to practicing, repeating the process over and over, until he had to stop due to fatigue. Slowly, he improved. At least, he became more consistent when contacting the ball, and it seemed like the contact was solid. But until he could try it without the practice net, he had no idea. “Time for Plan B” he thought. I’ve got to find out how far I can kick the damn thing.
The next day, he hung around the gym until he had a chance to talk to the football coach. When the opportunity presented itself, he approached him and said “Hey Coach, got a minute?”
The coach recognized him and was a little surprised to see him. “Well hi David” he said. “What can I do for you”.
“I wonder if you would do me a favor and lend me a kicking tee”.
The coach was aware of Davids problem, so he quickly replied “for what?”
“I want to be a kicker on your team, and I have to know how far I can kick the ball”.
The coach just stood there, staring at David. Finally he said “I appreciate your spirit Dave, but I don’t think that will happen. I think you may be in over your head on this one”.
“Well coach, I’ve got to know. Lend me the tee. If I bomb, no harm, no foul.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I need someone to manage the equipment. If you will do that, you can use whatever you want after the practices. Fair enough?”
David was elated. Not only was he going to have a chance to see what he could do, but he was also going to be involved with the team. “Oh yeah coach” he said excitedly. ” Fair enough. You have a deal. I’ll be here tomorrow. Thank you. Thank you very much”.
David couldn’t sleep that night he was so pumped. Tomorrow, he was going to find out what he could do. Good or bad, he had to know. After classes, he hurried to the gym and set about doing anything and everything the coach assigned him to do. He loved every minute of it, but secretly, could hardly wait for the practice to be over. When at last the team headed for the showers, the coach said “OK Dave, after you clean up, it’s all yours. Use whatever you want and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Upon completing his chores, David walked onto the field and, setting the tee on the ten yard line, he placed a ball on it. On his first approach, the ball sailed well short of the goalposts twenty yards away. And so it went for the remainder of the afternoon. By the time he picked up all the balls and returned to the gym, he had had only marginal success.
Over the following weeks, Davids accuracy improved, as did his distance. Once he would become consistently accurate at a given distance, he would move the tee back and start kicking further out. Currently, he was kicking from the twenty five yard line. During daily practice, the coach had allowed him to practice with the teams place kick holder to get a better sense of timing. It was a little different then kicking a stationary ball, but he was quickly getting the hang of it.
Oblivious to anything around him, after kicking several balls through the uprights, he heard a voice say “Not bad Dave. Not bad at all.”
David turned to see the coach standing there. “Thanks coach. I guess first I had to prove it to myself. So what do you think? Am I good enough for you to give me a shot at joining the team. Whadda say coach. What do you have to lose?”
“I don’t know Dave” the coach said, shaking his head. It’s awfully risky. You have eleven men rushing at you on PAT and field goal attempts. You could be seriously hurt. I just don’t think it is a good idea”.
Not to be dissuaded, Dave pressed the issue. “Roughing the kicker is a penalty”.
“Yeah, but by then, it’s too late. They have already made contact and you are on the ground”.
“What if, after I make the kick, I just fall down. That way there is very little chance anyone is going to touch me. Come on coach. I can do this. Just give me a chance”.
“The coach was silent for a couple of minutes before saying “do your parents know that you want to do this?”
“Not yet” David admitted. “But I am sure I can convince them. They are really very supportive, if I needle them enough”.
“I’ll tell you what” the coach said. “If they will sign a release, I will add you to the roster. But no promises when it comes to playing time. I have a kicker. I would only use you in an emergency. You OK with that?”
“That’s fine with me” Dave said excitedly. “I’ll be back with the waiver. Just watch.”
After arriving home, David approached his father first. He was more into sports and had been the one that had helped him talk his mother into letting him play soccer. “Dad” he said. I want to go out for the football team”.
His father stared at him and a slight smile began to cross his lips. “I told your mother that this day was coming when we bought you the football. I told her you had a motive and it was just a matter of time before we found out what it was. Tell me what this is about.”
“Well, I talked to the coach today. I have been kicking balls after school and I think I am pretty good now. He watched me and said he would let me join the team as a backup kicker if you and Mom would sign a waiver. What do you think Dad?”
“What you’re asking is pretty risky son. What if you got hit. You’d be like a sitting duck standing back there. You could get badly hurt.”
“The coach said the same thing” David replied. “I told him that if I fell down immediately after making my kicks, the chances of getting hit are pretty slim. I don’t think there is anything to worry about. I can do this. I know I can.”
His father pondered the idea a bit, glancing at David from time to time, watching him nervously anticipating his reply. Finally, he said “We’ll talk to your mother tonight. This is not going to be easy, so don’t get your hopes up.”
Two days later, David approached the coach and handed him a waiver signed by both his parents. “There you go coach” he said cheerfully. “Sign me up”.
The coach read the waiver and then said “I’m taking a big chance here. I hope you know what you’re doing. Don’t think this is going to be easy.”
“David laughed and said “Of course it will be easy. The hard part was getting my Mom to sign the waiver”.
The following Saturday, Dave took the field with the team, to the surprise and disbelief of many of the fans. Both of his parents were in attendance. His dad ready to cheer him on. His mom praying he wouldn’t play.
In the third quarter, the kicker, who was also a running back, took a hand-off and attempted a run around the left end, where he was met by a wall of defensemen. When the pile untangled, everyone got up but the runner. The trainer ran out on the field and everyone waited to see if he was OK. After a few minutes, he was helped to his feet to the cheers of the crowd, however, he was favoring one leg. His day was over.
At the end of the third quarter, his team scored and as if in a dream, David heard his number called. He grabbed his helmet and met the coach on the sideline. “OK” the coach said. “I’m giving you a chance, only because I have no other choice. Remember what we agreed. As soon as you attempt the extra point, fall down. Do you hear me? Do you understand?”
“Yes coach” David said. Gotcha loud and clear.” he said, jogging onto the field.
There was a cheer from the fans, and a sense of anticipation hung heavily over the crowd. Everyone was holding their collective breaths. David took a deep breath and awaited the snap. “Just make believe it’s practice” he kept telling himself. “No big deal. He watched the ball move toward the holder and made his approach, kicking the ball solidly, and immediately, falling to the ground. It wasn’t until he heard the cheers that he found out that his kick had been true. He had scored the extra point. A feeling of great relief, pride, and satisfaction washed over him as he trotted off the field, teammates slapping him on the back, and loud applause from the stands.
When he reached the bench, the coach greeted him with a high five. “Well, it looks like you were right and I was wrong David. What made you so sure you could do this?”
David smiled and said “All my life, people have told me what I can’t do. So it is really up to me to decide what I can do.”