FOUNTAIN SPRINGS, Pa. — A big part of the North Schuylkill special teams is kicker and punter Gavin Mentzer.
"It's great being on this team. They treat me no different. They treat me as if I am just another teammate. Obviously they care for me a lot. Without any of these guys I would not be at this spot in my life," said Gavin.
"He really enjoys the game. He works incredibly hard at what he does. Certainly he is an asset to any team. A kid like that that can kick the football. You can tell that he really enjoys it and he is a great kid and a great worker," said Wally.
At 6'1" and 195lbs Mentzer has the length and the swing to send the football soaring. He picked up kicking in the 7th grade and hasn't looked back.
"I do technique all the time. Lifting the strength is another huge part but mostly technique and flexibility is another huge key. I stretch everyday," again said Gavin.
But a rare medical condition known as Kawasaki Disease held Gavin back from tackle football. It was first diagnosed in him when he was only 4 months old.
"It's an artery condition. I have aneurysm's. It clots up my blood a little easier so I take blood thinners," added Gavin.
Gavin gets monthly check-ups at Geisinger in Danville where they make sure the blood vessels that lead to his heart are not inflamed or swollen. Then there's the yearly trip to the Boston Children's Hospital for a much more thorough evaluation.
"Oh we do stress ECHO and running on the treadmill. They track my heart rate and a bunch of ECHO's taking pictures of my heart and my aneurysm's and see how they are," said Gavin.
"Are you inspired that he is going through the medical stuff and having to go to Boston and Geisinger and having to deal with this as a young kid? Absolutely he has to be an inspiration to everybody regardless of his health situation he doesn't let that hold him back," added Wally.
We'll so far this season Mentzer is 5 for 7 on FG's a long of 37 yards and he has hit almost 55 extra points. I would say that is a pretty good season for a kid who is only a sophomore.
"Never give up. Hard work is everything," added Gavin.
Steve Lloyd Newswatch 16 sports Schuylkill County.