November 6, 2013

Facing your own mind

Coahulla Creek lineman Hunter Reed is overcoming his narcolepsy


Team story

Warnix, another senior offensive and defensive lineman for the Colts, is Hunter’s best friend and has been since their sophomore year.

One day, during a summer workout prior to the 2012 season, Hunter took center stage and told some of his teammates of his disability.

“I was shocked,” Tyler remembers. “I never noticed it. (Other people) had no idea, either.”

But the reaction was mostly understanding and accepting. Hunter, who was timid about revealing this topic, was shocked and more able to open up to others about the disability.

“It was a lot more positive than I thought it would’ve been,” Hunter said. “If I had the choice again, I would go to Coahulla Creek. There were so many more things I learned.”

That allowed Hunter to shed the lazy label. At 5 feet, 9 inches and 240 pounds, he plays right tackle — the blind-side spot for left-handed quarterback Blaine Williams — and center. On defense, he plays defensive end and nose guard. With the Colts at 2-7 this year, Hunter has made seven solo tackles and assisted on eight additional tackles.

He has learned tricks to keep himself attentive. Whether it is slapping his head, swaying back and forth or chewing his mouthpiece, Hunter started a system that he still uses whenever feeling tired.

“One thing he does is he puts water on his face an awful lot,” Hamlin said. “He has rode hard with it. He doesn’t use it as an excuse. That’s maturity. He understands what is going on and finds a way to solve it.”

Aside from his narcolepsy, the biggest challenge regarding football was a high-grade 2 sprain in his right knee. He suffered the injury during spring practice prior to his junior season, which was the first varsity schedule for Coahulla Creek. He missed the entire offseason but returned for the regular season, where the Colts won their first game against Murray County and finished with a 2-8 record.

Off the field, there are and will be other challenges for Hunter. Getting out of bed is still tough. Driving long distances is a scary topic for his mother to talk about.

“We don’t let him drive long distances,” she said. “His doctor hasn’t pulled his license yet. But, me as a parent, I don’t know.”

Wendy said narcolepsy often times gets worse as people with it get older. When asked how or if he would drive as an adult, she responded, “We don’t really know.”

“They told me there weren’t any health effects for him,” Wendy said, “but it does get worse as you get older. They told me there are people who would be walking and just drop. He’s not that bad, but there are cases like that.”

However, one thing has progressed — the effect it has on Hunter’s self view.

“It’s not a disability; it’s more of an advantage,” he said. “Someone who doesn’t have anyone wrong with them, I can still beat them. ... I can work just as hard as them, if not harder.

“I am the underdog. I’m cool with that. I love the underdog. In every ‘Rocky’ movie, he takes so many shots and then comes back and whoops them. I can take all those shots and come back.”

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