WEST SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Alex Hurlburt is a fixture on almost every sports team in West Salem.
“This past year I played basketball, baseball and football and I’ve been kind of doing that since I’ve been a kid,” the junior at West Salem High School told KOIN 6 News. “I also did wrestling and soccer as a kid.”
But it’s not just his athletic prowess that’s earned him Athlete of the Week, it’s what he’s overcome to get there. To those who know him, Alex Hurlburt is one thing.
“He’s a warrior,” said his coach, Micah Tiffin.
Hurlburt already has college coaches pursuing him, which is a dream he’s worked hard to make into a reality.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid and it’s definitely coming to life now,” he said.
He was born 5 weeks early without an arm below his left elbow. He’s spent his life avoiding the word can’t.
“One of the biggest thing that helped me throughout my whole life is never say can’t. It’s something that my dad came up with when he was trying to teach me to do things as a kid.”
That attitude stoked a competitive fire in Hurlburt.
“As a kid I was definitely underestimated a lot, like, on almost everything I did, whether it was just, maybe, I’d go climb a fence or something,” he said. “I was underestimated and it translates to now, still, some people might underestimate how strong I am or fast I can be.”
He said it still happens but it’s OK.
“It makes me want to play harder, so it ends up working out.”
It’s worked out to the point where most people forget anything about the teenager could be considered different.
“I’ve never thought of him as having an impairment because he is gritty as can be,” Tiffin said. “It was never an issue because he’s as tough as nails.”
In this year’s NFL Combine, Shaquem Griffin of the University of Central Florida took the football world by storm by being stronger and faster than most believed he could be. For Alex, it was seeing someone just like him — Griffin does not have a left hand — who proved what he’d always known.
Griffin “absolutely killed it with all the different things that he did and it just showed that, you know, no matter what you can kind of do, you can do whatever you put your mind to,” Hurlburt said. “I think that’s really cool and inspiration to myself to know I can do that, too.”