A football coach copes with multiple sclerosis.
Within a span of just a few years, North Texan Sam Harrell went from fighting for state football titles to fighting for his livelihood.
“It went really fast,” he said. “From 2005 to 2010, I went from ‘you can’t tell anything, but you have it’ to ‘now you can’t even walk.'”
In 2004, Harrell’s Ennis High School Lions had grown into a powerhouse. Their spread attack was virtually unstoppable, powering them to 4A state championships in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
But in 2005, Harrell’s coaching future — and his life — drastically changed with a doctor’s visit when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition where the immune system attacks the central nervous system and disrupts communication between the brain and body.
“He said, ‘You aren’t going to coach much longer.’ It was a blow,” he said. “The only people I knew had MS were in wheelchairs. I wasn’t showing any signs. It took about a year for it to start showing up.”
It started with a limp. Then it progressed to the point where Harrell used a golf cart when coaching. By the third year, it was obvious something was wrong.
“We told the boys. I told assistant coaches,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t do it anymore.”
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