Summer 2024

Texas high school student doesn't let cerebral palsy stop him from inspiring others

Coppell High School boasts one of the best teams in Texas, which is known for producing a bevy of quality high school football programs. The Cowboys finished 11-2 this past season, in which they won their district championship.

And the team’s head coach, Mike DeWitt, is no slouch either. He was recently awarded the 2017 Landry Award Coach of the Year, which is selected by the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership and the Landry Award voting panel, and honors a coach who encourages leadership, selflessness, maturity, respect and kindness.

So it was a bold move when student Rowdy Colten-Paschall approached Coach DeWitt and said, “I don’t know if you’ll ever put me in, but I want to be a football player. I’ll do whatever you need me to do, I’ll play whatever position, but suit me up.”

His courage was rewarded when DeWitt responded, “All right, you’re on the team.”

Colten-Paschall has cerebral palsy, a permanent movement disorder that varies from person to person but often includes poor coordination, weak muscles and tremors. But that didn’t stop him from falling in love with sports.


Colten-Paschall’s dream of playing high school football became reality in October 2016, when DeWitt put the junior into a game at wide receiver. He was in for only a couple plays and didn’t touch the ball, but was cheered by his teammates as he came off the field like he had scored.

That’s because his attitude and outlook had inspired the entire team.

Practicing with the team took its toll, so Colten-Paschall was moved onto the Coppell coaching staff as a defensive line assistant this past season. That keeps him position to still inspire the team.

“When a starter on a football team, a very large kid, comes up to me and says, ‘You are a huge impact on my life,’ it kind of makes me tear up,” he told Fox 4 Sports in Dallas-Fort Worth. “To think, those guys know I would give up anything to suit up and play.”

And though he’d rather be playing, Colten-Paschall trusts the Lord has him where he’s at for a purpose.

“You can’t tell me there isn’t a God when you see a 5-foot-6, 115-pound handicapped kid walking out to a Texas football stadium, padded up. I don’t know where I would be without God because — I really don’t know,” he said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words for once in my life, but I know that God has huge plans for me. He put me in Coppell, Texas, for a reason. He made me disabled for a reason. I’m going to be all right.”

He’s going to be just fine also thanks to his mother, Brandi Paschall, who wears a necklace featuring a Philippians 4:13 engraving: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And she has a message for other parents whose children have special needs.

“Don’t give up on them. Don’t feel sorry for them,” she said. “Push them as hard as they are capable of being pushed, and encourage them to be the best that they can be, because they were created for a purpose.”

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