ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KBRC) – Even at 11 years old, Heath Williams from Abilene is all about football and sports. He plays football for the Merkel Badgers, and his coach, Chance Brown, said he is one of the strongest kids he knows.
“When it comes to football, he’s everything a coach could ever ask for. He’s tough as nails. He’s got more heart than three grown men,” said Brown.
Heath is used to being out on the field but now he’s on the sidelines after suffering a severe injury at a playoff football game on Saturday, November 4. His mom, Kristin Gwinn, said life had been nonstop since the incident.
“When everything was happening, it was very fast,” explained Gwinn.
Heath sustained injuries from a head-to-head collision with another football player.
“It was a helmet-to-helmet impact, and his head just kind of came into his shoulders basically,” explained Gwinn.
Heath was airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock with spine and neurological injuries.
“Couldn’t lift his legs, and he lost function of his bladder we got there. There was probably like ten doctors just waiting for him to get there. He got immediate attention,” said Gwinn.
He has been back home since Tuesday. Gwinn shared that he was cleared of any spinal injuries, but the swelling did cause some neurological damage. However, he has been feeling and doing better after treatment. The family is thinking about the community support that surrounds them.
“I’ve got people I haven’t talked to in over years hit me up and ask me how he’s doing or if he need anything,” said Lee Williams, Heath’s dad.
Even through this journey, he is still thinking about getting back on the field.
“So we’ll have the red zone games, but I won’t get to play, and hopefully, I’ll get to play baseball after,” expressed Heath. “It gives you something to do instead of being a couch potato.”
His teammates have remained by his side, constantly offering support and encouragement.
“We had a team meeting, and we asked them, hey, I understand the circumstances. This is hard to watch. What do y’all wanna do? And they said we want to finish this fight for Heath,” said Brown.
Coach Brown is raising awareness about football injuries.
“Sometimes you can’t shake it off. You just got to take it seriously, slow down, and realize that maybe something really is wrong,” added Brown.
Heath has a follow-up appointment next week to determine when he is expected to make a full recovery. He and his family are grateful for the support they’ve received from the Merkel, Jim Ned, and Abilene communities.