Paralyzed player becomes baseball coach - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Paralyzed player becomes baseball coach

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WAUKON (KWWL) -

Five years ago, Mark Hawes was paralyzed from the chest down during a high school baseball practice after colliding with the catcher at home plate.

"It was a regular baseball practice and the coach said that the last batter was up. I was being aggressive. I wanted to score. I was caught right inbetween third and home. I was clearly going to get out. I knew I was just dead meat. I dove towards home and the catcher was right in the base path and so I collided with the catcher."

The collision had broken his neck.

"He instantly starting yelling 'My neck! My Neck!' I knew something was wrong," said Austin Troendle, a former teammate and now one of his assistant coaches, who was only feet away from the accident.

Troendle said it could have been easy for Mark to shut out baseball, but instead his deep love of the game brought him back as a head coach for all 18 of the junior and little league teams. 

Mark didn't apply for the job but instead was reached out to by the then-head coach to become an assistant coach. A little hesitant, he accepted.

"After that first year I kind of came around to the sport again. I started to fall in love with it again. The kids helped out a lot. I got to talk though a lot of hardships with the kids. Even though they might not have realized it, they helped me out a lot," said Mark.

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