Injury leads Mtn. Grove football player to XC course


by Michael Deere (for Ozarks Sports Zone)

MOUNTAIN GROVE – After a serious injury off the field forced him to quit playing football, Mountain Grove senior Luke Fry found a new passion.

“I love football,” Fry said.

Luke began playing tackle football in fourth grade.  But his freshman year, while jumping dirt bikes with his twin brother Caleb, Luke landed wrong, flipped and came down on his head, breaking his back.

“They put two rods and fourteen screws in it and fused seven vertebrae together,” Fry said.   “They told me I couldn’t play football anymore.”

He tried to make it back to play as a sophomore, but doctors didn’t clear him medically. That wouldn’t keep Luke from being with the team.

“He’s always with the team and helps out with everything we need done,” Panthers head coach Brandon Rodgers said.  “He’s there, the kid’s really respect and like him.”

“I love being with the team and supporting them,” Luke said. “I mean that’s where all my best friends are. We grew up playing together.”

“I mean, it means everything to me,” Caleb said.  “It makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something out there.”

Luke traded in his football cleats for track shoes and he hasn’t looked back.

“It’s a brutal sport,” Luke admits.  “I mean football you gotta be tough but cross country.  You gotta be mentally tough to be able to do it.”

Luke hasn’t just overcome his injury, he’s worked hard to become a district champ.

“I was just doing it to do something and be competitive. I wanted to do my best in it and try my hardest and yeah, ended up getting pretty good.”

“He has the drive and the will to win,” cross country coach Lori Hyde said.  “He wants to see the other runners for Mountain Grove win as well. He pushes them everyday in practice. He’s just a competitor.”

A competitor, looking to finish his senior year off right.

“I’m excited to see,” Luke said.  “I’m hoping we go to state.”