High school student overcomes disability to be part of football team
Noah Betsinger is just like many high school students. He wants to be part of and represent his high school and he also wanted to follow in his big brother, Jalen’s footsteps. Jalen played football for the La Follette Lancers before graduating two years ago.
Noah faces a challenge his big brother didn’t, however. Noah Betsinger has cerebral palsy.
“When Noah was getting ready to start high school, he always wanted to be active in after-school activities in sports, just like his big brother. So we called up Coach Swanson and said, hey, what do you think?” says Kelli Betsinger, Noah’s mother.
For Coach Scott Swanson it was an easy decision.
“He grew up knowing he was going to be a Lancer and he grew up wanting to be a Lancer,” Swanson said.
At practices and at games this year, Noah worked with the team as a manager. He shuttled water bottles to the players that were affixed to his motorized wheel chair. During games, as players came off the field and sat down on the bench, Noah would go to each player to make sure they had water.
“He brings us water, high-fives us when we make big plays and tries to cheer us up when we’re down. He’s a very essential part of us. He’s really part of our spirit and our heart,” says Braden Jorenby, a senior on the La Follette football team.
While Noah fills an important role with the team as a manager, his dedication to the players also provides an inspiration to them.
“As a thing, he brings water. But he brings way more to the team than just a couple water bottles,” says Swanson.
“He gives me motivation. I mean, he really makes me try and drive myself to be a better football player and a better player for the team at whatever I do, whether it is playing in a game or just cheering on the sidelines,” says Frank Arriola, a senior on the La Follette football team.
The La Follette football team finished their season with an overall record of 7-3. But it won’t be the end of Noah’s involvement with the team. A sophomore, he will have two more years as a Lancer.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” Josh Bernhagen, a senior on the team, said.