HUTCHINSON, Minn. (KMSP) - When Hutchinson hockey takes the ice, their feet are moving and their legs are in constant motion, which makes it hard to believe that one of their players doesn't have feeling in his feet.
From the ankle down, 17-year-old Alex Nelson says he essentially can’t feel a thing, but he’s counting his blessings, and those sharp blades aid his balance, sticking into the ice. His prognosis three years ago, however, set him up for a very different future.
"Once I was told I would never walk again, it really hurt and coming to the realization that I'll never play hockey again, that hurt even worse,” he said.
He was a freshman playing varsity soccer.
"I kicked the ball and something tore or snapped in my back, I didn't know what happened, at the initial time I didn't feel it, didn't know what happened and then halftime I collapsed on the sidelines and I was paralyzed from the neck down,” he said.
Doctors were puzzled, and Nelson was devastated, but with hockey season just around the corner, he refused to give up.
"What I knew about him was he was in a wheelchair watching practice to a couple weeks later he was having a go,” hockey coach Marc Telecky said.
Nelson said after about a month of physical therapy, he regained feelings in his legs, but never regained feeling in his feet. It took another two months after that for him to walk. But shortly after that, he was showing up at the rink after hours hoping to learn how to skate again.
Now in his senior year, you'd never know Nelson was any different from his teammates, and his coaches treat him all the same.
"Our expectations of Alex versus any other kid is no different,” Telecky said.
The only thing different is his outlook on life.
“If you're going through a hard time, just keep working good things will happen,” he said.