Hall of Fame Alumni
Mark "Doc" Andrews Rising Star Award
AJ was born with the absence of the fibula bone in both legs, so at 10 months, he had both feet amputated, and then at 1 year, he received his first set of prosthetic feet. Now at age 17, AJ has played almost every able-bodied sport possible, including baseball, golf, basketball, football, hockey, and track & field.
His love for hockey started when he played on an able-bodied team from age 5 till age 11, which also included a few tournaments on the US Youth Amputee team. AJ started playing sled hockey in January 2013, with the Ohio Blades Junior teams. He played in two tournaments and was the MVP of the Adaptive Sports Programs of Ohio Club (ASPO). In the 2013/2014 season, he played in four tournaments for the Toledo Walleye Junior team, where he was again named MVP for the team. He was selected to participate in the 2014 USA Hockey Sled Player Development Camp in Buffalo, NY, where he made the USA National Development Team for 2014/2015.
AJ's biggest love, though, is football. He played flag football for his school from 1st grade through 6th grade. Then, was a starter on this junior high school football team at the quarterback and/or linebacker positions, scoring a rushing touchdown in 8th grade. Just before his freshman year, AJ tore his meniscus, which sidelined him for his 9th and 10th grade seasons, but has now received the all clear to play this year as a junior. He currently is the JV quarterback and safety while also being on several special teams for the Varsity team.
In 2010, prior to AJ's 7th grade year, he received his first running blades and he has not stopped running since. This past season, in 10th grade, AJ received his 2nd Varsity letter by finishing 5th on his team in points. He placed 4th in the league in the 200M Individual and the 4x400M Relay, and his 4x200M relay team placed 1st, setting a new school and league record in the process. His 4x200M relay team advanced to the Regional meet, finishing in 9th place. This summer, he competed in the Thunder in the Valley in Saginaw, Michigan, the Great Lakes Regional Games in Lake Forest, Illinois, the US Paralympic Track and Field Championships in San Mateo, CA, and National Junior Disability Championships in Ames, Iowa. At the US Paralympic Championships, he won his first ever USA Adult Championship in the 400M with a time of 51.58, beating the current US record holder. This time has put him on the Adult National team for the first time. In the same meet, he finished 3rd in the 200M and 4th in the 100M.
He was also selected to represent the USA in the IWAS World Junior Games where he competed in August in the 100M, 200M, 400M, Long Jump, Discus, Javelin, and the 4x100M relay in England. He went on to win gold medals in all 6 individual events and a bronze in the 4x100M relay. AJ was also just selected as the Male Track High School Athlete of the Year and a High School All American by US Paralympics. His best all time in the 100M is 11.82 and his best 200M time is 23.13.
AJ is very well rounded. He is active in his high school choir, swing choir, chorale, octet, and musicals. He is an active member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church and its youth group and volunteers annually at the ASPO Paralympic Experience Day at Kent State University, helping show others disabled athletes what sports they can participate.