Teen with ‘heart of lion’ takes football field with prosthetic leg
Maddock football coach Bobby Hoffner, who will be inducted into the Valley City State University Athletic Hall of Fame this fall, says Ben Backstrom has the “heart of a lion.”
That’s because the 14-year-old freshman is playing football this season with an artificial leg, a result of a lawn mower accident at the family home in Maddock four years ago. One leg was severed just below the knee, with lesser injuries on the other leg.
“We’re still unsure of exactly how it happened - whether he was thrown off the mower or fell off,’’ said his mother, Priscilla Backstrom. “The mower ran over both legs.
“It was an awfully traumatic experience. I had to try and lift that big mower off of him and pull him out from underneath. Then to see the legs and the blood was worse, and we worried he might bleed to death.’’
Ben and his family spent six weeks in the Twin Cities for skin grafts and eventually he got fitted with a prosthesis. Remarkably, within two and a half months, he was walking. To this day, he still has to apply lotion to the leg.
But the handicap isn’t slowing him down. He was dabbling in track last spring, played some baseball and is now focusing on football on the junior varsity level. He plays center, blocks very well and is an avid weightlifter.
His mother said he never complains or wonders “why me?” He approaches his schoolwork and athletic endeavors with the same passion and enthusiasm as every other youngster his age.
“He seems to have a lot of courage to believe he can do anything he sets his heart to doing,’’ his mother said. “He doesn’t complain, doesn’t pout or get down in the dumps. It’s really remarkable the way he’s handled it.’’
His mother said she’s not one to over-worry about her son getting further injured on the football field. He has developed a tight bond with older brother Andy, a junior. The two brothers go to practice with each other every day.
The Backstroms have an older daughter, Anne, in her first year of college.
Ben does just fine, his mom says. He’s got the competitive urge to smack somebody a good one on the field if he gets the opportunity, and he exhibits plenty of energy on a daily basis.
Not only has he emerged as a top athletic figure at Maddock, but he excels in the classroom, too, where he carries an A average and National Honor Society status.
“School comes pretty easily for him,’’ Priscilla said. “He’s motivated to do well, but it seems to be pretty easy for him. It’s just a blessing to know he’s still here with us.’’
Devils Lake Journal