Coach inspires players after losing both legs

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Justin Felder - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – There is more to a Hawg Tuff Offensive Line Camp than run blocking and pass protection.  Coach Mike Pope hosted the camp at Carolina Forest High School on Monday and says he has a bigger message.

"He just wants you to know you're very blessed to be a football player," Carolina Forest rising-senior offensive lineman Jagger Turner said.

Pope is a 30 year coaching veteran who lost both of his legs to a staph infection five years ago.  He continues running camps around the country and his example inspires players as much as his high-intensity practice methods do.

"In football you learn if you're knocked down, dust your pants off and try again," Pope said.

The message gets through to players loud and clear.

"When you fall down, it's easier to get back up, and that's a good message," Turner said.  "Just have to fall down and get back up."

Pope says he hopes overcoming challenges in his life will motivate his players, but he says he does not want them to feel bad for him.  He says he gets to do what he loves every day.

"People see a poor old fat guy with no legs, [they think] he has to have the worst life in the world," Pope said.  "I've got the best life in the whole world. I'm the luckiest guy in the whole world."

Pope recently had a book written about him called "Do They Play Football in Heaven."

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