Shadle Park’s starting linemen will be spotting their opponents 50 and more pounds per man when they square off in a football game.
Cameron Schultz, Shadle’s 175-pound tackle, is just grateful for the chance.
After last football season, Schultz learned he had Graves’ disease, which was brought to public attention in 1992 when Gail Devers won an Olympic gold medal just two years after a painful bout with it.
The disease is not life threatening if discovered early enough. With treatment and time it can be cured.
Graves’ disease causes the thyroid gland to overwork and in the case of Schultz it produced a resting heart rate of 160 beats a minute and loss of 25 pounds down to 142.
“My thyroid was so big and body going so fast I was losing weight and muscle strength,” he said. “My attitude went down.”
He began taking treatment last January, including radioactive iodine to shrink the gland and kill it off. He was told not to play soccer last spring and that he might not play football.
“My major priority was to play this year, that’s one of the reasons I took the iodine so soon,” said Schultz.
He began lifting weights in the spring and by the time he was cleared to play football had regained his weight plus an additional 10 pounds. His resting heart rate is now normal.
“Cameron was in conditioning all summer more than anybody,” said his new coach, Mark Hester. “Now he’s coming back.”
He undergoes a routine checkup each month, takes thyroid medicine twice a day and is monitored at practice by his coaches.
“I had to take it easy during conditioning and if I feel my heart racing must slow down,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet.”
Schultz is a member of an offensive line which is by far the smallest in the GSL. Only tight end Garritt Wideman weighs over 200 pounds. The others, center Russ Seaman, guards Josh Scheidner and Sam Glanzer, tackle Doug Humphreys and tight end Tom Mohr are Schultz’s size.
It matters little to Hester, whose T-formation offense relies on constant movement, angle blocking and trap double teams. The tight ends, he said, are glorified guards.
“It’s really weird,” said Schultz. “It’s an offense I’d never seen before. You never know where the ball’s at.
“I kind of enjoy the responsibility,” he continued. “You do not slow down. You do not quit on anybody.”
The front seven block for a backfield of Sean Kingsbury, Joe, Trevor and quarterback Kris Walters, that Hester said, “is as good as any I’ve had.”
Other returning starters are defensive back Rob Holland and linebacker Jeremy Huston.
Also on defense are linebackers Dan Klein, Jeff Lafferty and linemen Clint Williamson and Carey Hipps.
The fact he would prefer to play defense, that the Highlanders are undersized or that they are picked to finish last in the GSL doesn’t matter to Schultz.
Just knowing he will be on the field contributing when Shadle opens its season is a victory for a player laid low by a serious malady.
“I love the game of football,” he said. “I’m just glad I could stay with the team. These are guys I’ve played with since our freshman year.”
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