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Ganado lineman doesn't let club foot slow him down

By MIKE FORMAN
Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.
Updated Oct. 7, 2011 at 5:07 a.m.

Ganado's Anthony Parks is a senior and starting left tackle despite 10 surgeries on his foot.  Parks was born with a left club foot but that hasn't stopped him from playing sports.FRANK TILLEY/FTILLEY@VICAD.COM

WHAT IS A CLUB FOOT

It is a defect that occurs in one in 1,000 births. The foot is rotated inward at the ankle instead of outward. Boys are twice as likely to be afflicted by the condition as girls. Half of those born with it have bilateral club feet, which means it is both feet instead of just one.

The most common way is with braces and casts to move and hold the foot in its proper position, which begins after a few months of birth. Surgery is often needed to correct how and where tendons are attached, which happens at nine months to a year old.

GANADO -- Doctors told Allen and Andrea Parks their son would be lucky to walk.

The diagnosis would come as a surprise to Ganado opponents pancaked by Anthony Parks.

"I can do anything pretty much any regular-footed person can do," said the offensive lineman. "I've just got to learn. It's all about change and learning how to adapt with it."

Parks was born with a club left foot, but the senior is starting at left tackle for a Ganado offense that is rushing for an average of over 307 yards per game heading into Friday's District 15-1A, Division 1 opener at Shiner.

Parks has constantly made adjustments after having 10 surgeries on his left foot, the last after finishing his sophomore season.

"After each foot surgery, I was in a cast for six or seven months," Parks said. "You have to re-teach yourself all the things you need to know. It just took time."

Parks has made allowances. He wears a size 13 cleat on his right foot and an 11 1/2 on his left.

He does the same when he wears athletic shoes to school, although he went to Houston to have a plate inserted for his boots.

"The hard part is the ligaments in my foot don't stretch as much as a regular foot would," Parks said. "Most people can bend their toes all the way up and mine stop at a 90-degree angle.

"When I was younger, it was harder to run long distances," he added. "I could run short distances and condition with the football team, but the mile runs and the longer distances would be harder."

The thought of Parks doing any kind of strenuous activity seemed far-fetched when he was born with the toes on his left foot touching his calf.

But he started playing football as a youth and grew to 6-feet and 280 pounds.

"It amazes me every time I see him on the field," Andrea Parks said. "We're so thankful for him to be able to play. Given the severity of the deformity, we never imagined him being so good."

Parks not only plays football at Ganado, he's also a member of the powerlifting and baseball teams.

"I knew he had a problem, but, until I saw his foot, I didn't realize the severeness of the problem," said second-year Ganado coach Jimmy Thompson. "He doesn't use it as an excuse. He doesn't use it as a crutch. He gets out there and it's almost like it's a sore ankle."

Parks never skips a wind sprint and rarely misses a practice - unless he's showing his pig at the Jackson County Youth Fair - even though he's also had surgery on his shoulder and jaw.

"I cannot recall one time him feeling sorry for himself or saying 'Why me?,'" Andrea Parks said. "He's always had an exceptional attitude about everything."

Anthony Parks is thankful to be part of a Ganado team ranked No. 1 in the state and has no intention of letting anything keep him off the field.

"I had to adapt," he said. "It's gotten where it doesn't bother me anymore."

NOTES: Thompson has been impressed with Shiner, despite its 2-4 start.

"The thing that impresses me about them is how well their offensive line gets off the football," he said. "They're not big kids, but they will come get you. Their little guards will go get the linebackers. Their timing with the offensive line is almost perfect. They get off on the football."

Thompson sees the play of Ganado's defense as a determining factor.

"It will be how well our defense can slow them down," he said. "They're good offensively when they don't turn the ball over."

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