If you ever needed an example of courage and resilience in the face of adversity, look no further than Clark Montessori High School student Ryan Brewster. This remarkable young man was a recent recipient of the Tom Potter Memorial Award of Courage, which is presented each year by the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Football Foundation to a person who has overcome great obstacles in their life. Brewster, a senior and football player at Clark, has made a habit of hurdling obstacles, as he was born with a congenital limb deficiency that left him without a left wrist or hand. Even in spite of what many would call a disability, Brewster has refused to accept any limitations imposed or assumed by others, and instead has routinely chosen to focus on how he can adapt to and overcome whatever circumstances he’s faced with. The fire and enthusiasm with which Ryan approaches football – and life in general for that matter – has proven to be contagious. He was unanimously voted captain of the school’s football team, and he has garnered a reputation for encouraging and inspiring his fellow teammates and classmates both on and off the field.
Rob Barker, the Football Coach at Clark Montessori High School, is quick to tell people how much of an inspiration Brewster has been to him, as well as to the team. “I got the job last spring, and he [Brewster] was a part of the interview process. From day one, he has been an outstanding young man and leader. He was the heart and soul [of the team] from the first day I got there, and he’s still pushing kids today in the classroom. He’s just a leader … he inspires his teammates and everyone else, and he inspires me every day.”
Brewster has played both offensive and defensive positions on the school’s football team, but he has particularly excelled at the running back position. He was at one point the leading rusher in the entire city of Cincinnati, and last season he finished fourth with nearly 700 yards on 194 carries. Brewster has never allowed his limb deficiency to hold him back in football; in fact, Joe Berta, Brewster’s former football coach, once remarked that Brewster would never acquiesce to running routes on pass plays that would purposely make it easier for him to catch the ball with his right hand. Brewster’s response to Berta’s offers would always be short and sweet: “It doesn’t matter.” This make-no-excuses attitude has carried over into Brewster’s other athletic endeavors as well, which include running track.
For other children who may be facing similar obstacles, Brewster offered the following advice, “I’d tell them to keep striving for success and not to give up or sell themselves short … they’ll never know how what they do may inspire somebody else because … more than likely somebody is watching them. And they’ll always have some influence on somebody else in a positive way, as long as they look at it positively. So just be positive and optimistic about what they’re going through and get through whatever they have to get through.”
Without a doubt, Ryan Brewster has left an indelible mark on Clark Montessori High School. Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC) is proud to manage the high school athletic programs at Clark, and we are continually inspired by Ryan’s can-do mentality and unwavering enthusiasm to follow his passion with wholehearted determination. May more students become inspired by this beacon of courage, so that they can follow and achieve their dreams as well.