By Kate Thurston Rushville Republican
---- — “There is always someone who has it worse than you,” came from Tanner Hall, a senior at Rushville Consolidated High School who had a life changing accident in 2011.
Hall had a passion for motocross and rode since he was four years old.
“I loved motocross and I still do,” Hall said. “I always played a lot of sports growing up but my favorites were motocross and wrestling. I got into these sports so much I gave everything else up. I wrestled in the winter and it kept me in shape for riding. Riding was my life. I lost focus of everything else. I wasn’t into school that much, I wasn’t applying myself like I should’ve. I was so busy with motocross. Riding was my main focus.”
On May 28, 2011, Hall’s life would be turned upside down.
“My friends and I were riding our dirt bikes that day,” Hall said. “For me it was unfamiliar land, I never rode there before.”
What happened next would change Hall’s life forever.
“We were almost done riding and I decided to take off flying through this open field. I was catching speed and then I seen a pile of bricks and rubble,” Hall stated. “I remember thinking, ‘do I gas it and try to bail, what should I do?’”
Hall hit the pile and said he remembers not hurting very much. “My first thought laying there was I am going to be in so much trouble for wrecking my bike.” From that moment forward, Hall was paralyzed from the chest down.
Almost three years later, Hall looks at life differently.
“I do see things differently now,” Hall said. “Before I only cared about racing, now I try to focus more on school. I care about more things now than I did before the accident. It opened my eyes.”
Hall was a member of the RCHS wrestling team since he was a freshman. He manages the team now that he is wheelchair bound. “I like to cheer these guys on and keep them going,” Hall added.
Since motocross was put on the back burner, Hall turned to other sports to keep busy.
“Last year, I started playing wheelchair basketball. I met this man who is a coach of a basketball wheelchair league in Indianapolis and he kept asking me to join. I put him off for a long time then decided I would give it a try.”
Hall practices on the weekends with other players and plays in games once a month in the winter. His interest in basketball has impacted his outlook on college.
“Southwest Minnesota State contacted me about playing there,” Hall said. “I was offered a scholarship that will pay all that Vocational Rehab will not pay for.”
Although he is not currently riding motocross he still has interest.
“My role models are still ones who race motocross,” Hall said. “Now I like to cheer for the ones who have been injured or who has had it rough. I still keep interest in motocross and hope maybe one day I can have a job in it.” Hall says one day he hopes to ride again.
With his tragic accident, Hall stays positive and tries to keep his head up.
“Someone always has it worse than you. I always tell the wrestling team to keep going and keep fighting. I try to help them during matches. I try to keep them going. In wrestling you have to push yourself and keep a good mental attitude. I like to watch these kids grow and keep seeing them win and do their best.”
With his disability, friends and teammates overlook his condition.
“My friends really stuck by me through it all,” Hall said. “My friends are great. They do everything they can to make it seem like everything is the same as it was before my accident. They are really great.”
His team members and friends say Hall is positive and helps them out in many ways.
Garrett Hittle, a friend since fifth grade says Hall has been an inspiration.
“We have been friends for a long time,” Hittle said. “We have always been close. When we were kids we used to beat each other up,” Hittle laughed. “He has inspired me. Our freshman year we were the only two wrestlers that went to regional. Now that he is back here with us it’s really cool. When I see him here, it makes me want to work harder.”
Another close friend, Nick Hornaday agrees.
“He makes me want to work harder since he doesn’t have that opportunity. He is always positive. We have been friends since the fifth grade. I couldn’t imagine being in his position, he has been in wrestling longer than I have. It’s not fair. I wish I could switch places with him,” Hornaday said.
Varsity wrestling coach Mark Mathews wishes he could see Hall wrestle.
“This is only my second year here coaching and I really wish I could’ve seen Tanner wrestle,” Mathews said. “Everyone has told me he was great. I know he loves the sport. It’s so great to have him around, he helps in any way he can.”
Mathews agrees with the team that Hall is a motivator.
“With Tanner being here during practices and meets, he does make the team work harder,” Matthews said. “He pushes them to work harder and gives them extra motivation. He keeps the team going. While he is at practices he keeps times for me, he is almost like an assistant unpaid coach,” Mathews laughed. “He is always yelling at the kids and pushing them on.”
Hall will graduate this year from RCHS and will start college in the fall.
Contact: Kate Thurston at 765-932-2222, ext. 105