A Montana high school football player whose leg was amputated below the knee less than a year ago made a triumphant return to the field by scoring two touchdowns at his team’s season opener Friday.
The Billings Gazette reports Koni Dole started at fullback on offense and as a lineman on defense Friday for the Huntley Project High School football team in Wordan, Mont.
Dole was playing in the team’s last game of the season on Oct. 28, 2012 when he suffered a compound fracture on the field.
After undergoing multiple surgeries the teen developed compartment syndrome, which cuts off blood flow to a part of the body after an injury. The family and doctors decided the best choice was to amputate Dole’s leg, in the hopes he would be able to someday play football again.
Fox Sports reports Dole vowed he would, learning to run on his prosthetic leg before most amputees can walk.
By January, he was wrestling for his high school team and working out with the football team.
“Two months after surgery, I forced myself to wrestle, just so I could get out there and compete again,” Dole told The Billings Gazette. “I ran track just so I could get on my leg and get running.”
Recovery hasn’t been easy for Dole. He tells the paper he plays with constant pain as the bone of his leg grinds on the prosthetic.
“It kills me all the time,” Dole said. “It started hurting (during the game), but it was nothing I couldn’t push through. The feeling of me being out there was overwhelming … taking my mind off the pain.”
Dole’s determination and drive have also helped him another fulfill another of his life-long dreams. Fox Sports reports he was recently offered a walk-on football scholarship to Montana State University.
Dole tells The Billings Gazette he credits his upbringing for his drive to “be the best” he can be.
“I just didn’t let it hold me back,” he said of his amputation.