‘We all have challenges in life’: Fernandina football player born without lower part of arm adapts, overcomes

‘I am no different than anybody else,’ junior Nolan Blackard says

Nolan Blackard, a junior right tackle for the Fernandina Beach Pirates, was born without the lower part of his left arm and wears a prosthetic most days.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Nolan Blackard, a junior right tackle for the Fernandina Beach Pirates, was born without the lower part of his left arm and wears a prosthetic most days.

On the football field, he leaves it behind.

“I am no different than anybody else,” Nolan said. “I just get out there and play football.”

He said his physical difference sometimes works to his benefit.

“I think sometimes it is an advantage because there is less for the opponent to grab,” Nolan said.

He said nothing will stop him from playing the game he loves.

“I have just learned to adapt to it and overcome it,” Nolan said. “We all have challenges in life, and I just treat it like anything else.”

Nolan Blackard, a junior right tackle for the Fernandina Beach Pirates, was born without the lower part of his left arm and wears a prosthetic most days.

Nolan was fitted with his first prosthetic arm at 3 years old and now wears two different prosthetic arms to do different activities.

Whether it is competing on the gridiron, lifting weights or even offshore fishing, Nolan’s effort always stands out to his parents Jeffrey and Melinda.

“Anything he has found interest in what he wants to do, we figure out a way to do it,” Jeffrey said. “It just may be a little bit different.”

“He has never said no to anything,” Melinda said. “Anything he wants to do, he is going to do it. It has never been an issue. He just may do it a little bit differently.”

Pirates first-year head coach, Apollo Wright, said he knew right away Nolan was a stud.

“He is just a great person,” Wright said. “Nolan was punting, kicking, catching, throwing, running around. I don’t think there is anything he cannot do.”

Nolan embraces the hype on game days, being a part of the student body at Fernandina Beach High School and being on the football team.

“My whole life I have watched football,” Nolan said. “I always enjoy the game, the strategy of the game or the passion of the game.”

And he’ll always have two very passionate cheerleaders in his corner.

“I am just extremely proud of him for just putting himself out there and never giving up,” Melinda said. “Just rising to the challenge and getting it done.”

Nolan Blackard

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