Indomitable Spirit

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Even though this is from 2017, I only saw this story and video in my LinkedIn feed today. This might seem like any other video about high school football, but it’s not. It’s a story about overcoming obstacles and never giving up. In short, it’s about indomitable spirit.

If you train martial arts, you’re probably familiar with that term. Even if you don’t, you may still be familiar with it. Spirit is someone’s energy and liveliness. It shows in their everyday actions. Indomitable is something unyielding, unconquerable, and impossible to defeat or subdue. At first, how these two words fit together might not be clear. When someone has an indomitable spirit, they are determined to rise above their circumstances, showing courage, determination, and resolve. It’s about having grit.

What does indomitable spirit have to do with high school football? You might be tempted to guess that playing the sport brings out the indomitable spirit in the players. While that may be true, that’s not what I mean by indomitable spirit.

The story is about a young man named Sepp Shirey. Sepp was born with cerebral palsy. Football allowed him to connect with his friends and push himself to never quit. Eventually, Sepp met Tim Tebow through Tebow’s Wish 15 foundation. During his senior year at Atlee High School, Head Coach Matt Gray decided he should have one final moment on the field. Sepp was unexpectedly brought out on the field when the game outcome was inevitable. There wasn’t much planning involved, except that Sepp was to carry the ball a few yards before being “tackled” with a two-hand touch. That plan, however, changed with a linebacker on the opposing team who saw the look in Sepp’s eyes and started cheering him on. Not only that, but he told his teammates to let him run. Sepp’s run turned into an 80-yard touchdown.

Sepp faced and will continue to face challenges throughout his life due to his cerebral palsy. If you aren’t familiar with it, cerebal palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture with no known cure. Generally, symptoms include developmental problems and speech, eating, movement, and coordination problems. Instead of accepting the limitations of his condition, Sepp chose to use them as the motivation for attacking his dreams. When he was interviewed afterward, he said, “The fact that I fulfilled a dream that I’ve had forever—of scoring a touchdown and crossing the goal line—is incredible.”

That’s the power of indomitable spirit.

Sepp’s dream wouldn’t have been possible without it. It also wouldn’t have been possible without the help, support, encouragement, empowerment, and vision of everyone around him. The players on the opposing team understood, whether they realized it or not, how empowering it would feel for him to fulfill that goal and encourage it.

Watch the video again. Watch the reactions of the players on both teams. Sepp’s story isn’t the only one like it. I challenge you to never give up. Face your challenges and overcome them, don’t let them be limiting factors.