(WORDEN, Mont.) — Eleven months ago, high school senior Koni Dole was playing in the last game of Huntley Project High School’s regular season when his right leg snapped below the knee.
“I was just kind of like, ‘Why does this have to happen to me?,'” Dole, of Worden, Mont., told ABC News. “I know what it feels like to have a last game. Or what I thought was my last play.”
After several emergency surgeries, his lower leg became so infected that doctors gave him a sobering choice: keep the leg and risk a major illness, or amputate it. He had the leg removed.
“As soon as I learned I might have to amputate, I started looking up amputees that play sports, and made the promise that I’d be back on the field,” he explained.
Where his shin, calf and foot used to be, Dole is now fitted with a flexible carbon fiber prosthetic.
Dole worked on learning to walk on the prosthetic. Within three months, he was back wrestling for his high school, and last spring he was running track.
“A lot of people don’t see the process he goes through, getting ready for practice, taking care of the leg after practice, taking care of the skin,” Dole’s football coach, Guy Croy, said.
“Even though the pain was excruciating, just forcing myself to do the little things probably got me to where I am right now,” said Dole.
But there was one last goal Dole wanted to tackle. More than anything, he wanted to get back on the gridiron. “The doctors told me I’d never play football again and I just always had that in the back of my mind, driving me,” he said.
And then, the moment Dole had so patiently been waiting for finally arrived.
On Friday night, less than a year after the injury that should have ended his athletic career, Dole made his football comeback. Wearing his prosthetic, he ran for two touchdowns and helped his team win the game.
For Dole, the moment was surreal. “Just to overcome all this and to be back on the field with my teammates, it’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said.
And Dole is showing no signs of slowing down. His dream school, Montana State, offered him a walk-on scholarship.
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