Wounded U.S. Veteran and Former Rifle Star Shares His Story
RIFLE, Colo.--The top-ranked Bears made their final adjustments Thursday before hosting Battle Mountain, but it was an inspiring visit by Ryan McIntosh, a former Rifle star, that provided extra motivation.
"To me, Ryan McIntosh personifies what you can take away from being a high school athlete," Rifle head coach Damon Wells said.
While serving in Afghanistan in 2010, the 23-year-old Army specialist stepped on a landmine, and in a split second, his life completely changed.
Doctors would have to amputate his right leg below the knee.
"I remember waking up 10 feet in the air," McIntosh said. "They pulled me out and I realized it was pretty serious. I tried to stand up and I realized I had nothing to stand on anymore.
"The biggest thing about losing my leg is just how strong you are. Your will and your power within."
The former Rifle athlete left many of the current players inspired, including senior running back Ryan Moeller, who leads the state with 1, 230 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
"It really gives me perspective on how we take a lot of things for granted," Moeller said.
McIntosh is known around the community for kicking a game-winning 33-yard field goal against Glenwood Springs in 2006.
"He was a very tough kid," Wells said. "He was fiery when he played here, but very dependable as well. And I think you can see those qualities in him now."
Six years later, he's returned to the same field to share with the current players that the team motto, "Rifle tough," is something they can carry out for the rest of their lives.
"Rifle football brings a lot of good traits out of you," McIntosh said. "And that's my biggest message for these guys. Life's not over after high school football, and there are still struggles that you have to overcome."
Which the U.S. veteran has been doing since his tragic accident. He was walking six weeks after losing his leg and hasn't slowed down since.
He recently made national headlines as the U.S. Open ballperson and has high hopes to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics.