Going golfing? Play for paralyzed football player Matt Bollig

September 30, 2012


Matt Bollig awakened from surgery from a spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed from the waist down, looked into his mother’s eyes, and said, “Does this qualify me for a medical red shirt?”

An Ottawa University student and former football player, Bollig made his mother, Valerie, laugh. She needed that. Now she needs our help. Massive medical bills are mounting. The equipment her son will need to make the most of his altered life is expensive.

So let’s all pitch in, have a blast on the golf course one more time as if it’s still summer, and sign up to play in the first Matt Bollig Golf Tournament. Clear the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 12, and call John Teegarden at 913-205-4628 or e-mail him at

The cost is $90 a player, the format a four-person scramble. Tee time is set for 1 p.m. at Eagle Bend. The first three players to call Teegarden to pay to play will join me to form a foursome. If nobody requests that, my confidence will be shot. I’ll never break 100 again, and I’ll back up every course in Lawrence looking for wayward shots. If you sign up, I’ll give you two putting tips you’ll use for the rest of your life. (Or not, if that’s your preference, given my 19.4 handicap index.)

A native of Chanute, Matt Bollig was supposed to be lining up at running back, maybe even quarterback, for Ottawa, but that all changed on July 18.

As a boy, Bollig enjoyed tempting fate by jumping down 40 feet from the window of his grandfather’s house into the water near a dam, varying the jumps with a flip here, a twist there. He’d walk away from it just fine every time.

Nothing risky about what he had planned for his fateful summer day, just another day of sculpting his ripped 6-foot-2, 215-pound body in the weight room. His hamstring gave out racking weights, and they fell on him and severely bruised his spinal cord.

Bollig, 20, spent almost eight weeks at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., undergoing rehabilitation, but hasn’t regained feeling in his legs. A big turnout at the golf tournament at the very least might lift the spirits of an athlete who as a safety once made 21 tackles for Fort Scott Community College against Hutchinson, was clocked at 4.58 in the 40 and was looking forward to his first season at Ottawa after playing well in the spring game.

“I’m just kind of living my life right now, going on with my business and whatever happens happens,” he said of his prognosis.

What’s happening a week from Friday is a golf tourney at Eagle Bend for his benefit. Play in it.


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