One of the biggest motivators for New Albany’s football team is a young man who will never hear the crowd cheer or his name called out. Despite his hearing loss, Michael Rost has served as a valuable part of the Bulldogs’ squad since his first days of playing in junior high. NAHS head coach Ron Price was then a special education teacher at the middle school and learned one of his students was interested in going out for the team. The result: a newfound friendship and inspiration.
“It’s been a great experience,” Price explained. “Michael is one of those kids that’s determined to be successful, not being held back by his disability. He came out and said he wanted to play football, said he was going to do it, and he’s going to accomplish something. He might not ever be a superstar on the field, but it means so much for him to be a part of the program and to be around the coaches and his friends.”
Now a senior, Rost has built many friendships on the field and has not allowed his disability to keep him from playing the game he loves.
“I like football because it’s fun to play for Coach Price,” Rost said. “It’s like working a job, and I’m with my friends everyday. I work hard at football because the coaches tell me to work hard every day.”
Rost mentioned fellow seniors Jud Roberts, Drew Davis and Eric Johnson as some of his closest friends and said that the support of both his family and teammates make him successful at the game.
“My friends help me a lot, and the coaches work with me constantly, giving me an opportunity to improve,” Rost said.
Against Baldwyn, Rost asked to play kickoff coverage, which led to him injuring his rotator cup. He will have surgery next week, but is still active in practice, helping in any way he can.
“I got hit, and coach told me that I’m lazy,” Rost joked in reference to his injury. “Coach Price lets me work getting water and helping out during practice now since I can’t play.”
With football being a visual sport, Rost has been able to pick up on learning things in practice, but it is still difficult to fully grasp every aspect.
“Time is an issue, but it’s something our coaching staff works with on a daily basis,” Price explained. “Michael does a great job reading lips and understanding most of our signals, but it is still difficult, and I hate we’re not able to give him the quality time that he would need to become a successful part of our football team.”
Price credits Rost’s work ethic as being a motivator for his team, as the defensive tackle does not allow anything to stand in his way or stop him.
“It’s just a motivation, you know, everyone can make excuses sometimes for why they can’t accomplish something, but Michael is not the kind of kid that’s held back. He shows other kids that if you really want to do something, you can. He sets great examples because he never talks back to coaches, never questions anything we try to do. When you tell him something to do, he does it, and that’s a great example for his teammates. He helps to point others in the right direction,” Price said.
Rost is an inspiration for any special needs student, and encourages others with disabilities to not be held back.
“I’ve played football for many years, and it hasn’t been easy,” Rost said, “but I love the game and nothing will ever change that.”