The Will to Play
Known to most as the children's game, baseball doesn't take much- a bat, a ball and some bases to run. But for nine-year-old Will Plowden, the game meant for everyone wasn't meant for him.
"Will was born with bilateral club feet; the bilateral part means both of his feet were clubbed. Basically, his feet turned in backwards. If you were to set him down, the first thing that would have hit the ground were his ankles," Will's Father Bo Plowden said.
Diagnosed by doctors as one of the worst cases of clubbed feet, Will had his first surgery when he was eight weeks old with seven more procedures to follow. However, the pain and the procedures weren't going to stop Will from walking, running or playing baseball.
"I like baseball the best because the first time I played it, I was really good at it and so I kept on playing it," Will Plowden said.
"If you saw Will's room, it's loaded up with baseball cards; like he has a binder full of baseball cards in it. He has a ton of it and he knows every player's name," Will's older brother, Banks Plowden said.
The kid who looks up to the likes of Chipper Jones and Buster Posey taught himself how to play using any surface around the house. Once healthy, it was a natural progression to play, but there were still doubts.
"I mean you see these feet... that you think.... I mean you didn't think he was going to be able to walk, much less participate in athletics and then much less excel in athletics," Bo Plowden said.
Will grinds away for the game he loves, dealing on the mound and manning first base for two baseball teams. Sure there is pain on the ankles that take every bit of strength to bend, but only after the final outs are recorded.
"Once he walks across the white line, the pain is gone. I guess the endorphins take over," Bo Plowden said.
Will's passion for baseball translated to a perfect day this summer. Will was pitching for his Albany Dixie League team and flat out took over.
"I was just throwing the ball and pitching and then everybody kept yelling loud and I'm like...this is not how they usually do it," Will said.
Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, Will was perfect.15 hitters came to the plate and 15 hitters sat down. Will pitched a perfect game.
"All Will did was pitch and he batted, it was literally a perfect game" Banks said.
"I don't think he ever felt like that he wasn't going to do the things that everyone else wanted to do" said his father. "This is his normal. He does probably endure more pain after a game than some people, but to him, it's worth it."
Against all odds, brushing away adversity, this nine-year-old athlete takes any obstacle in stride. Making everyone thankful for what they've got, Will's just thankful for a bat and a ball.
"I'm just like them when I play. I just feel like I'm the rest of them."