A New Hanover High School football player inspires others to do their best

Reported by Jon Evans - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Things will be different at New Hanover High School during the next football season, because one of the most dedicated players won't be on the field.

Though Tyler Pinyatelo was not one of the Wildcat starters, when it came to playing with heart , not many can match what the 17-year-old has accomplished.

Head coach Kevin Motsinger says that everyone has been telling Tyler 'no' his entire life.

Doctors told Tyler that he may never walk or talk because of his Cerebral Palsy, but the teen proved them wrong.

Tyler tried out for the New Hanover High School's football team as a freshman, and made the Wildcat squad.

"I don't think I have Cerebral Palsy, it just takes me longer to do some things than others," said Tyler.

"The kids have been great," said Tyler's mom Celeste Pinyatelo.  "I can't remember one player who's picked on him or not been supportive of him."

For two and a half seasons, Tyler made every practice, lifted weights, lived by the same rules as other players on the team, but never made it into a game.

One rainy night in October, Tyler made his game day debut.

"When I got in, I was kinda nervous," said Tyler.  "I didn't know what to do, everyone was chanting my name.  I knew I had to get in and do my best."

Tyler made it into four more games during his senior season - a season that his coach missed some games due to health problems.

For inspiration Coach Motsinger only had to look to number 99 on his own team.

"Tyler was one who checked on me, and was genuinely concerned for my health," said Motsinger.  "He never needed to say a word, it was just that positive encouragement from him."

"Coach Mott, when he tells you to never give up, you just want to go the extra mile for him," said Tyler.

Another season may have come and gone at New Hanover High, but the memories of the past four years won't be soon forgotten by one Wildcat or his coach.

Tyler wants to go to college and major in sports marketing.  His goal is to be a general manager or president of a sports franchise.