- Associated Press - Sunday, November 1, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield athlete isn’t afraid to laugh at some of the quirks of playing soccer with a prosthetic leg.

For example, David Odun-Ayo, who was born with part of his right leg missing, wears a shin guard on his prosthesis. The Glendale High School senior chuckles, saying, “The rules are rules.”

When the native Nigerian went out for soccer this year, he initially told the coaches he was a midfielder, a mixture of offense and defense, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1MW1ssq ). But Glendale’s coaches liked his aggressive style of play and relentless hustle, so they made him a forward.

“I’ve always loved soccer, ever since Africa, so I just thought it’s my senior year, the last year, I might as well play with my closest friends,” said Odun-Ayo, who also has played football and wrestled at Glendale.

Glendale soccer coach Jeff Rogers didn’t hesitate to let Odun-Ayo try out for the Falcons, despite his lack of experience in organized soccer. Rogers liked the senior’s contagious positive attitude from the start.



“He said to me, ‘I just want to be a part of it. I’ll be a team manager, I’ll do whatever you want me to do,’ but it worked out that we had a uniform for him on our junior varsity,” Rogers said.

In his debut on the junior varsity squad, Odun-Ayo played forward and scored two goals, both on headers.

“One was a diving header. And so after that game - just seeing the smile on his face and interacting with his teammates - he’s been a positive influence on our kids,” Rogers said.

Odun-Ayo has been known to share his story with younger children. “I’m just giving information, telling them no matter what I have, I can still do everything,” he said.

Coach Rogers said Odun-Ayo has a “great sense of humor,” recalling when an athletic trainer noticed Odun-Ayo running with a slight limp during a St. Louis tournament.

“One of the trainers said, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with your leg? Do you need tape or something?’” Rogers recounted. The good-natured Odun-Ayo politely declined any tape and walked away, chuckling.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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