Overcoming odds

Playing basketball growing up, coaches would always tell me that I had to learn how to dribble and finish with both hands, properly align my guide hand and shooting hand when taking jump shots.

I wonder what Zach Hodskins thought when his coaches gave these instructions to his teammates growing up. Hodskins was born with only one hand, but he doesn’t use that as a crutch or excuse on the court, and he hasn’t allowed it to stop him from reaching his basketball dream.

This past Friday, Nov. 14, Hodskins’s basketball dream came true when he made his debut for the seventh-ranked Florida Gators in their season opening win against the College of William and Mary. The freshman walk-on came into the game with about two minutes left and missed his only shot attempt, yet after the game he said that it was an amazing experience, and he hopes to build on the performance. He also said that he didn’t necessarily expect to get in the game, but he was glad he did and happy he was able to achieve his dream.

Seeing Hodskins play is a pretty cool sight, but he’s more than just a gimmick. He’s an incredible basketball player. If you don’t believe it, check out his YouTube videos. They’re quite impressive. They show his picture-perfect jump shot along with some of his other skills. Along with being a great shooter and fairly skilled, he also has good size at 6’4” and was a dominating high school player.

As a junior at Georgia’s Milton High School, he averaged 11 points per game and became known as a remarkable sharpshooter. He also had player profiles on most of the top college basketball recruiting networks and earned the designation of being a two-star recruit by a few of the networks.

Florida coach Billy Donovan offered Hodskins a preferred walk-on opportunity after his junior year of high school after hearing about his story and seeing some of his highlight tapes. But Hodskins isn’t just looking for handouts. He’s determined to earn everything he gets and prove critics wrong. He said that one of his favorite things is when he plays pickup basketball with new people, gets picked last and then finds that everyone is in awe of his talents.

Hodskins’s story is truly inspirational to people trying to reach their dreams despite the odds. One of the coolest aspects of his story is that he tries to inspire other athletes on Twitter who are battling the odds.

One of the most notable cases involved a Twitter conversation between him and a young player who made his Division III college team at a height of 3’9’’. They talked about how they inspired each other, and Hodskins even said he wanted to meet the player.

Hodskins’s on-the-field story is incredible and inspirational, but what he does off the court to help his game while also inspiring others is truly exceptional.

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