College Blue Devil Athletes Adopt A Most Inspirational Boy
He’s the Merced
College Blue Devil Football Team’s most inspirational player. He’s
at every practice and suits up for every home game, cheering on his teammates
with enthusiasm and passion. He’s as much a part of the Blue Devil
brotherhood as anyone. And yet, Morgan Boyle can’t run or catch
He’s confined to a wheelchair.
The 13-year-old Chenowith Elementary School student lives with the effects
of cerebral palsy. Although he is bright and inquisitive—in most
ways a typical teenager—he lives in a body that doesn’t allow
him to experience the physical pleasures of being an athlete. But, that
doesn’t matter to Morgan. He’s found a team to play on.
For the past year, the Blue Devil men have adopted Morgan as one of their
own. They’ve given him access to their practices and games, included
him in their team huddles, and have outfitted him in a regulation uniform.
He’s even pictured in the official team media program.
His parents, Merced College students Dennis and Michelle Boyle, says it’s
been a blessing for both Morgan and the football players.
“The football players and coaches have made Morgan feel like he’s
part of something that we, as parents, never dreamed he could be,”
said Michelle Boyle. “He may be in a wheelchair, but he’s
become a football player. He’s affected the players too. It’s
made them appreciate and be grateful for the things they can do physically.”
Dennis Boyle says the affection and attention Morgan receives from his
teammates is inspiring. In a letter given to head football coach Tony
Lewis, Dennis writes:
“Coach, all too often young athletes get caught up in their own
hype and become nothing more than an attitude with no character whatsoever.
But, I want you to know that you should be proud of the job that you and
your coaching staff have done with these fine young men. They extended
their hands and hearts in kindness toward Morgan and gave him the greatest
gift anyone could.”
Coach Lewis affirmed his pride in his football players.
“I’m really proud of them,” Lewis said. “They
never realized that they are role models, but with Morgan they soon saw
the impact they can have on young people.
“I always tell the men how lucky they are to go to college and to
be able to play college football,” Lewis said. “Some of us
aren’t able to do this. It’s nice to see them follow through
and develop this relationship.”
Morgan’s association with the Blue Devil football team began last
fall when his father took him to see a practice. The players saw Morgan
sitting in his wheelchair behind the fence. Some of them waved to the
young boy and soon others were coming by to talk to him. Morgan was thrilled,
his father said.
“We made it father-and-son time to watch the practices” Dennis
said. “Morgan was in awe of the experience. It was quarterback Dedrick
Davis who first approached him. He asked Morgan if he’d like a football
and Dedrick had all of the players sign it.”
In no time, the players had Morgan in the team huddle after practice.
And, for Halloween last year, after Morgan announced he wanted to go as
a Blue Devil football player, the team put together a complete uniform
for him. Then came a bigger surprise. A photographer took Morgan’s
photo for the team’s program.
“He just about came out of his chair when he saw that photo,”
The team voted Morgan as its most inspirational player. And, in many ways,
“Morgan and I talked after one of the Blue Devil home games,”
Dennis said. “He told me, ‘Dad, I know I can’t really
play football because I can’t run. But, that’s OK because
my Blue Devils play for me. I can’t run, so they are my legs.'"
Every victory the Blue Devils achieve on the field is a victory for Morgan
Boyle. But, win or lose, the players and coaches are champions in his