LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Believing in yourself is sometimes all it takes to reach a goal.
That — combined with encouragement from your parents and support from your community — can be a real difference-maker.
When we first covered Cooper Koenigsknecht, he was running onto the field as a junior manager of the Fowler Varsity football team and hosting his own version of 6 Sports Friday Night 5th Quarter.
Fast forward a few years and he’s a three-year starter on the varsity football team, playing defense for the Eagles.
Cooper made a name for himself tackling his opponents, sacking quarterbacks and showing off his talent in the weight room.
“I lift a lot of weights. And watch a lot of film too and you put that all together and it made me a better football player and a better person as well,” he said.
It’s no wonder he’s continuing his athletic career at the collegiate level, playing football at Madonna University on a scholarship in the fall.
“Once I sat in the chair and they said, ‘We want to offer you.’ I was awestruck I accomplished that dream and I can accomplish more,” he said.
That can-do attitude was instilled in him at a young age. Cooper credits his family for getting him through obstacles and adversity.
Being a nonverbal kid at 2 years old to becoming a college football player.
He’s the first student with autism to play college football in Michigan. An achievement worth celebrating all the way to the state capitol.
“I can’t think of a person more deserving a person who’s worked harder embraced by his community and overcome difficulties and his disability,” said State Rep. Graham Filler.
Not letting his disability define him is what Cooper’s parents Scott and Jenny have always encouraged Cooper to do, and they want other families to believe in what is possible.
When it comes to inspiring the next generation of autistic athletes, Cooper doesn’t hesitate taking a note from his own playbook. “I would tell young kids out there that anything is possible. God will chase your dreams with you too,” he said.
Reprinted from WLNS Channel 6 News