Wickenburg football coach born without arms or legs wants to show players ‘there are no excuses’

The new running backs and linebackers coach for the Wickenburg Wranglers was born with a rare disorder called Tetra-Amelia syndrome.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:55 AM MST
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WICKENBURG, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - You hear the phrase, ‘no excuses’ thrown around a lot in sports. But rarely will you see that motivational mindset demonstrated more clearly than on the football field at Wickenburg High this fall, watching the Wranglers’ new running backs and linebackers coach.

“I didn’t think about it until I was maybe 10 or 12,” says Carter Crosland, who has no arms or legs, and coaches from a motorized wheelchair. “By that point, I didn’t care, because I couldn’t change it. So to me, this is normal. This is my normal.’”

Crosland’s normal includes driving himself to practice at the high school each afternoon in his wheelchair. It’s a four mile trip that takes him about 35 minutes, going through town and along U.S. 60 in the bike lane.

“I want to show the kids that there’s not, there’s no excuses, right? I mean, sure, it’d be easy for me to just stay home and you know, stay out of the 100 degree weather,” says Crosland. “But if I can make it to practice on my own, they can walk up the hill and get to practice. ‘Hey, look, I can do it, there’s no reason that you can’t do it, too.’”

Born with a rare disorder called Tetra-Amelia syndrome, in a small, blue-collar Utah town, Crosland’s family and friends never let him make excuses.

“I played sports, I did the whole coach pitch baseball,” says Crosland. “I did wrestling. I did all that growing up. So I didn’t miss out on anything.”

In high school, he was an honorary member of the football team. He traveled to games all four years, even serving as captain a few times.

“I just, I wanted to be part of it,” says Crosland. “When the coaches were in meetings and doing some stuff on the chalkboard or whiteboard, whatever – it was chalk back then – kind of just picking their brains trying to learn as much as I could about this side of football because I knew this is where I could make an impact.”

Crosland’s learned a lot since then, coaching the last 15 years. But it’s the players who have learned even more.

“I look for coaches that are great coaches but better human beings, that can teach them life lessons,” says Wranglers head coach Ishmael MacNeil. “You know, a lot of guys complain, ‘coach, it’s hot.’ And I can just say, ‘look at Coach Carter. He has no limbs, can’t move, but he’s out here, doesn’t complain. And so that has helped motivate some of these kids to get rid of their excuses and push themselves.”

Assistant coach Sam Buchert adds, “I think it just puts things in perspective. [We’re] trying to get these kids to understand they’re capable of way more than what they think they are. And having Carter here, I mean, all they got to do is look around and see that you know, they’re pretty fortunate.”

The 37-year-old would like to be a head coach eventually. No matter Crosland’s role on the staff though, he wants to make the same mark on these teenagers that his coaches made on him two decades ago.

“I hope 20 years from now these guys look back and say, ‘man, Coach Carter was awesome,’” says Crosland. “You know, like, ‘I’m so glad I got to hang out with Coach Carter and and learn from Coach Carter.’”

Life presents challenges to Carter Crosland every day. He meets them. And beats them. That’s his normal.

“I want to make a difference in people’s lives and kids lives,” says Crosland. “And if me just living authentically can do that, awesome.”