Paul Linger: Gridiron grit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Paul Linger: Gridiron grit

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by Sunny Lane

STARMONT (KWWL) -- Middle school presents a challenge for any student, but combine 8th grade with a serious farm accident, and the word "challenge" takes on new meaning.

However, one young man handles his situation so well, you wouldn't even know his struggle. Meet Paul Linger, someone you should know.

Runs, tackles, and the occasional touchdown. The typical world of middle school football.

"He's a very good football player," father Gene Linger said.

Tonight Starmont's 8th grade team tries to conquer opponent East Buchanan.

"He's just full of enthusiasm," coach Darryl Syverson said.

They count on one of their key corner backs, #33 Paul olinger.

"I just laid my shoulder into them to tackle," Paul said.

Linger runs and tackles like the rest of his teammates, and he does it all with one hand.

"I wanted to conquer anything I could," he said.

March of 2008 found Linger working near the silo on his family's farm. He went to see what was clogging the auger.

"It wasn't working, so I went up there to see what was wrong," Paul said.

"He's the right height. When you slip, put your arms out, caught a pin," Paul's father Gene said. "It caught his glove."

The pin tore Linger's left wrist.

"That's when life took a change," Gene said.

His parents rushed this 13-year-old to the hospital where doctors told them his wrist was simply too damaged to save.

"A little shock," Paul said. "Not that big of a deal."

"How do you explain something like that?" Gene said. "Shock, you move ahead and deal with it."

As the reality of losing his left hand set in, visits from friends helped lessen the pain. Linger insisted on joining them on the football field.

"My wife's grandma said, 'You're going to let him play football?' I said yes. After what he's be through he can deal with anything."

And his coach agrees.

"He doesn't let what happened stop him at all," Syverson said. "He has no limitations. I think he can pretty much do whatever he sets his mind to."

And apparently that includes touchdowns. Paul got the ball and rushed it several yards to score for his team.

"Nothing really changed," Paul said. "They don't look at me any different."

His dad says you can attribute his success to his faith in God and a statement he made during his recovery.

"Paul told them, if you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to tell you I can," Gene said.

Linger has proven he can run, tackle, and score points on and off the field. 

Paul has resilience in his genes. His great-great grandfather lost both of his hands a hundred years ago, but still managed to farm and run a bank.

The Starmont Stars won their game against East Buchanan, 35 to zero.

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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