Staley football coach Fred Bouchard says senior Trent Hosick is one of the most competitive players hes ever coached, but thats not entirely accurate.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Hosick loves winning. In that way, sure, he fits the mold of a so-called competitive high school athlete.
But ever since a car accident nearly ended his life, losing doesnt have the same effect on him.
Others have noticed it, too. A quarterback, Hosick is one of 12 national finalists up for the Wendys High School Heisman award. At a ceremony in New York City tonight, he will find out if hes the national winner.
With such an honor comes even more publicity for Hosick, who has committed to play football at Missouri next season.
So on a windy, atypically warm December afternoon, Hosick prepares for a photo shoot.
His mother, Colby, sits nearby, describing the changes she has seen in her son since his near-death experience in 2007. Before shes able to finish, though, Trent interrupts the photo shoot.
Can I smile in some of these? Hosick asks the photographer politely. Im a smiler.
See what I mean? she says. The events that day changed him. I think he decided at that moment, If God is going to let me be alive, Im going to make the most of it.
Trent Hosick can detail the events of Feb. 20, 2007, like it was yesterday.
Truth is, he remembers hardly any of them.
On a sunny February day, he and Colby left their home, then in Springfield, and headed north for Trents wrestling practice. Except they never made it.
A car ran a stop sign at 60 mph, blindsiding the Hosicks. Their car flipped three times down a 25-foot embankment, leaving it in the shape of an accordion.
Trent was knocked out. As the car finally settled, he woke up and turned to his mother, who suffered a broken neck and 62 breaks in her right leg in the accident.
Mom, Trent said as blood leaked from his mouth, are we dying?
Trent, 13, was taken by helicopter to nearby St. Johns Hospital, where he was treated for a broken jaw, a severely broken right leg and a broken hand. His jaw snapped in half when it crashed into and broke the dashboard.
Hosicks father, Tom, who says he damaged his car engine racing to the scene, feared the worst.
We thought he was dead, Tom said. Ill never forget his swollen head and face. It was like a horrible movie.
Trent was a star running back and linebacker on his Little League football team in Springfield, but doctors told the Hosicks that his playing days were surely over.
The primary concern was if not when Trent could walk again without a painful limp.
Trent was bed-ridden for two weeks. He used a walker for the next six.
His jaw was wired shut following two surgeries, so he ate baby food and drank blended chili through a straw for two months.
As for football
I just dont remember ever thinking, I hope I can play football again, Trent said. It was just an assumption that nothing was going to stop me from playing again.
That fall, six months after his parents feared a car wreck had killed him, Trent returned to the football field. And a new position.
Unsure if Trents body would hold up on the football field, Tom suggested he move from running back to quarterback. There, Tom promised, Trent would see fewer hits over the course of the game.
I dont think he was accounting for the way I would play the position, Trent said with a laugh. But Im glad he did that.
Trent found his calling.
Last year he quarterbacked Staley to the Missouri Class 5 championship. As a senior this fall, he threw for 1,500 yards and rushed for 1,200 more, totaling 32 touchdowns. Hosick was a finalist for the Thomas A. Simone Award, given to the top football player in the Kansas City metro area.
In the fall of 2011, Fred Bouchard, also an assistant principal at Staley, heard the sound of free weights during the homecoming dance.
He knew who was responsible.
Bouchard walked to the schools weight room, where he found Hosick and Bouchards two sons working out.
What are you doing? Bouchard asked. Its homecoming. Get out there and dance.
He knew the answer.
There are players dancing all over the city today, coach, Hosick responded. Today, were going to be better than them.
Unusual? Not exactly.
Hosick could serve as his coachs alarm clock on some mornings; other times, he called late into the night begging Bouchard to open up the weight room.
Sometimes Ill get calls and Ill have to say, Listen, Im lying in bed, Bouchard said.
Tom and Colby maintain their son has always had a strong work ethic, but each admits it reached another level following the car accident.
That dedication also crosses over into the classroom. Trent is on track to graduate in two weeks so he can join the Missouri football team a semester early.
Trenton has gotten a glimpse into the beauty of life and death, Tom said. I think hes seizing his moment.
If food drips onto Trents chin when hes eating, please, somebody tell him. He cant feel it.
As a result of the injuries to his face, doctors removed the nerve endings in his chin. He still struggles to widen his jaw, too.
There are other, less obvious effects.
Five minutes before their car was struck, Colby noticed Trents seatbelt was unbuckled. She instructed him to fasten it. Police told her that probably saved Trents life.
I never go anywhere without putting on my seatbelt, Trent said.
On the football field, though, Trent shows almost no lasting physical effects of the crash nearly six years ago. He says his awkward throwing motion which has caused some scouts to doubt his ability to play in the Southeastern Conference is not a result of his broken right hand or other injuries.
It (the accident) has affected me mentally a lot more than it has physically, Trent said. Ive often looked at it and thought, Wow, if I can get through that, I can overcome losing a game or something not going my way.
Everything else seems so small compared to going through something like that.
Theres one more lasting effect.
A few questions and answers later, Hosicks smile reappears, accompanied by a laugh.
Yes, of course. And theres that: He still insists on smiling.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.