Rea: 'Sports is my life'

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CHINA GROVE — Physical limitations have never kept Tyler Rea out of the game.
When the South Rowan High School senior wasn’t able to continue playing baseball because of his cerebral palsy, he didn’t leave the field completely. Instead, he moved to the dugout.
“I kind of talked him into being a manger and learning how to do the books,” Doug Pruitt, Rea’s physical education teacher and baseball coach at Corriher-Lipe Middle, said.
Helping Pruitt manage the school’s baseball team gave Rea a taste of something he liked.
When he moved on to South Rowan he took on even more responsibility, roaming the sidelines as a manager for both football and baseball teams and keeping the books during basketball season.
“He’s very into it and he does his job as a professional would,” Pruitt said. “He’s such a hard worker.”
Rea said when his cerebral palsy forced him into a wheelchair in sixth grade he thought his days as part of the team were over.
“It killed me because sports are my life,” he said.
After receiving surgery at the Shriners Hospital for Children to straighten out his legs, Rea was up walking again.
Now, he glides around South Rowan with ease, despite the braces on his legs.
“He still plays harder than anybody,” Pruitt said. “I have always said that if half of our students had the heart he has, we would have no problem winning games.”
Rea said working as a manager for the Raiders has given him a newfound love of sports. He’s more passionate about the strategy behind the game and takes pride in making sure each player’s needs are met.
“I definitely feel like part of the team” he said. “I’ve been a really big part of these teams, that makes you feel good because you mean something.”
Rea also coaches a youth basketball team at the J. Fred Corriher Jr. Y in China Grove.
When he starts school at Catawba College this fall he plans to major in physical education in hopes of one day being a coach.
He’s already talked to Chip Hester, Catawba’s head football coach, about helping out with Chiefs football.
“My dream has always been to coach basketball or baseball because you definitely make a huge impact on so many people’s lives, from the fans to the players,” Rea said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.