Ness City After having his legs run over by a lawn mower in sixth grade, doctors didn’t know if Kyle Schauvliege would be able to walk again.
Even more so, running seemed like an impossible feat.
Today, however, 17-year-old Schauvliege is part of a future many didn’t think he would have. He recently led his Ness City High School cross country team to the 2A state championship, finishing fifth individually in Wamego.
But this is more than a story about Schauvliege, who overcame his personal odds. It’s also about his school that five years ago didn’t even have enough kids out for cross country to consider going to state.
That is, until a fresh-out-of-college teacher took over as the cross country coach four years ago, telling his small squad that even what seems impossible is possible.
Now, the girls joined the boys as state champions — the boys were champs in 2008 — and leading up to the recent triumphs, the teams repeatedly have been state-bound — an accomplishment they’ve made the past four years and two years, respectively. And for Schauvliege, it’s an honor he could only hope of achieving at the start of the season.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Coach Patrick Younger.
Younger, who ran track and cross country at Fort Hays State University, came to town knowing he had a young program and a lot of work ahead of him.
“We worked pretty stinking hard,” he said. “Even the ones that were excited about it didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.”
Younger didn’t know how this year would go for the boys team. He watched five seniors graduate, and, except for Snodgrass, the team would rely on underclassmen.
He met Schauvliege last year, a Jetmore resident who had transferred into Ness City. Having to sit out a semester because of the transfer, Schauvliege could only practice with the team, but he couldn’t compete.
It wasn’t until the end of track season that Younger started to see the potential in Schauvliege.
“I knew he could improve,” Younger said. “But I didn’t know how much.”
There still are scars on Schauvliege’s legs from the accident.
It was February 2005. Schauvliege, the son of Cynthia Brott and Lee Schauvliege, was riding on the fender of an open-aired tractor pulling a mower at the family farm near Jetmore.
A limb caused him to fall right into the mower’s path. Rushed to the hospital, his left leg was broken and cut up and doctors at first thought he was missing the heel of his right leg, Schauvliege said.
“They were going to make a plastic heel,” he said, but added that X-rays finally showed the heel bone was up in some tissue.
“Doctors said, ‘You might be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life,’” Schauvliege said, noting that it only made him want to work harder.
He had a number of surgeries. He went to a therapist to help him build up his strength.
“They had me do some silly exercises, like write the alphabet with my ankle to get the full motions back,” he said.
Schauvliege was in a wheelchair only a short time. He graduated to crutches and, a year later, he was back walking with both his feet.
Now Schauvliege wanted to go a step further. He wanted to run.
He didn’t get that chance for a few years, however, said his mother, Cynthia Brott.
“He had to sit out part of seventh- and eighth-grade sports,” Brott said. “We wanted to make sure his legs were healing right.”
Schauvliege said the leg he broke only hurts occasionally, such as when he stands in a spot too long. When he’s running, he never feels much pain.