Deformed arm doesn't deter McMurry kicker, runner Wright
Marc David, Special to the Reporter-NewsIf perception is reality, then Tanner Wright is the same as other athletes.
Sure, the McMurry freshman plays two sports during a time when most athletes compete at one. He was an accurate kicker for the football team, despite not having a soccer background. He also is a sprinter for the track and field team. He is undersized, and he already knows what he wants to do with his life.
If this sounds a tad unusual for a 19-year-old, well, Wright is an atypical freshman. But then, Wright came into the world in an atypical way. He was born with arthrogryposis, which caused joint shrinkage before Wright left the womb. Which begs the question: Does Wright have a disability?
"To be honest, I never thought about it," said Wright, who was 8 for 10 in field goals and 35 for 35 in extra points. "Obviously, I played (football) a little differently. I tackled differently (before coming to McMurry he played on both sides of the ball at North Crowley). I never thought I was any different, because I never did things any different."
It is a positive attitude that gives coaches and classmates positive feelings about the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Wright, whose left arm never fully developed and hangs at an angle from his shoulder. Some see a disability. He sees a "completely normal" individual who hasn't changed that much since he was a youngster who looked up to and emulated older brother Tommy Wright, a pre-med major who played safety at Maryville College in Tennessee.
"He told me the importance of balancing academics and sports," Tanner Wright said. "I learned how difficult that can be this year at McMurry."
Wright’s academic caseload is aimed at biomedical sciences and kinesiology. His dream job is working at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. Wright is familiar with the hospital — a pediatric center renowned for its treatment of orthopedic procedures. He visits annually for a checkup. He attended the facility’s "hand camp" until age 18. After his experience as a counselor last summer, Wright knew what he wanted out of life.
"That is when I found my passion," Wright said. "I want to work with others who have similar conditions. I want to give back. I know how hard it can be for little kids. I want to help them and show them that they can do anything they really want to do."
Wright shows that on the football field, as well as the track. His specialty in high school was the relays where baton hand offs are so important. He said he learned early to use his right hand and didn't have exchange issues. He looks forward to his first indoor track and field season, which begins Jan. 20, and figures he will be busy with the sport right into the summer.
"I get excited about all my kids," McMurry track coach Brad Parris said. "He has me intrigued. I don't know that I have ever been more excited to see any athlete I’ve ever coached. He is going to be successful (because of) his confidence and work ethic."
Wright turned down an invitation in the fall to try out for the U.S. Paralympic squad because he didn’t want to miss McMurry football games.
"If I have an opportunity for Tokyo (2020 Summer Paralympics) I can assure you I will not turn that down," said Wright, who will spend his summer kicking and working out on the track.
Wright is the embodiment of how a positive attitude can help one succeed. He looks back at the beginning and explains how lucky he is.
"I was not supposed to have just a problem with my left arm," he said. "There was every chance it could have affected my right arm and both legs. I am extremely lucky. You deal with the cards you were dealt. It's no use complaining. There are a lot who are worse off than I am."http://www.reporternews.com/story/sport ... /96433330/