By Dave Andrusko
A tip of the hat to Right to Life of Michigan’s blog for alerting us to the incredible story of Nik Hoot whose remarkable journal began in 1996 when he survived an abortion in Siberia and culminates (thus far) with his successful career as a high school wrestler. And, oh by the way, his wrestling career at Woodlan High School has come even though he had both his legs amputated years ago!
The story—a miracle in so many ways—began when the abortion was (to use that strange, strange word) “botched.” His mom, Apryl Hoot, told reporter Ben Smith, “The medical report read ‘Interrupted gestation 24 weeks.’” However it happened, it left Nik with legs minus parts.
Step One: Nik beats the 10,000 to 1 odds and survives the abortion. Step Two: two near-empty nesters in a small town in Indiana 5,000 miles away “felt their work was not done yet,” Smith writes. “So they began adopting children: Three from China, two from Russia, one from Hong Kong.” Step Three: Nik is one of the two from Russia.
“At that time they would send videos, the agencies would, with kids on them,” Apryl recalls. “We kept coming back to Nik.”
Nik has grown up with a family of five other adopted children (Smith says the Hoots have nine kids in all, ranging from 9-39) “and three besides Nik are physically challenged. Ged, two years younger than Nik, is legally blind. Mitchell, two years younger than Ged, has 16 birth defects. Emmalee, 9, was born without femurs. ‘We started doing this because these kids needed a home,’ Marvin Hoot says. ‘We wanted to do what we thought was important.’”
You’ll want to read the Journal Gazette story in its entirety anyway (www.journalgazette.net/article/20130214/SPORTS/302149987) but especially for Smith’s account of Nik’s incredible persistence. He refused to allow the struggles to deter him. Twice in a row—as a freshman and now as a sophomore—he made it to regionals, first at 106 pounds, then at 113 pounds.
“It’s difficult and challenging because there’s no video out there to study, no Internet. There are no books,” said his coach, Tony Girod. “You can’t relate something you’ve always done that has worked in your career or you’ve seen somebody has done. You can’t just pick those things out for Nik, because, obviously, Nik’s Nik.”
Nik Hoot brushes off this physical challenges; besides he sees himself as being profoundly blessed. Here’s how Smith’s great story ends:
“I know there’s some things I cannot do,” Nik says. “But I’ll still try. I’ll learn how to do it. Simple things, like running fast. … I know the probability is I will never be able to run as fast as most people.”
He can, however, wrestle. And if that, too, seems improbable to some, and one more piece of the blessing, he doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
It’s just who he is. Nik’s Nik – and there, perhaps, is the sweetest blessing of all.
“I don’t see it as being difficult,” he says of his knees-to-the-mat style. “I look at it as being an advantage, because I wrestle people with both their legs all the time, so I know everything they can do. But when they look at me, it’s completely different.
“I always just try to be as quick as I can, and I know what to stay out of. Because if I get in a particular situation, I know that they can get me down.”
As if anything else could.
You can also watch a television report about Nik and his family.