|Published:||Dec 18, 2013 10:43 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 18, 2013 11:22 PM EST|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The 41st annual City of Palms Tournament kicked off Wednesday at Bishop Verot High School. Each year, it attracts some of the best high school players in the country. As if the young talent on the court wasn't impressive enough, one player's performance left the crowd inspired.
Zach Hodskins plays for the Milton High School Eagles in Alpharetta, Georgia. By how skilled and quick he is with the basketball, you'd never even notice he's only playing with one hand.
In basketball, players' hands are essential for dribbling, passing and shooting. But Hodskins doesn't need two hands to do it all. He was born without part of his left arm. That's certainly not the first thing people notice. "He's fun to watch. He's very fast," Cody Cole observed from the bleachers.
"He made a nice basket right in front of us and he had that nice drive through the lane," Dean Brandt said.
It's never held him back, either. "My love for the game, God and family, they've always been behind me every step of the way," Hodskins said. "Whenever I felt down, they were always there to pick me up." Just look at him play. He weaves in and out of his opponents as his right hand guides the ball to the hoop. Hodskins has committed to playing for the Florida Gators in the fall. And, he's using the sport to do more than shoot three-pointers. "I like to use basketball as a way to connect with kids that have disabilities like mine," Hodskins said. "Not only disabilities, but those that are going through things in their family or minds. Any way I can help, I like to reach out through social media." The City of Palms Tournament is something Hodskins has watched since he was a kid. He traveled 600 miles for it. Once he hits the court, the only thing he's thinking about is scoring - something he's pretty good at. "I feel blessed that God put me in this situation and I have a good work ethic and a strong mindset to pursue my dreams and never give up. That's always been my goal to motivate my teammates and, of course, I shoot," Hodskins laughed.
The Milton Eagles played the home team, the Bishop Verot Vikings Wednesday night. The final score was Milton: 67, Verot: 39. The tournament continues through Monday, with the City of Palms champion being crowned that night.
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