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MJCA's Kittrell wins Jergenson Award
Mar 11, 2013 4:30 pm
Russell Award goes to longtime CU coach
By Andy Reed
Listening to a list of Andrew Kittrell's athletic accomplishments - leading tackler on the football team, top scorer in basketball and four track golf medals - one would never think the Mt. Juliet Christian sixth-grader has a number of disabilities.
But those accomplishments, despite missing four fingers on each hand and running on prosthetic legs, earned him the Kaia Jergenson Courage Award on Thursday night at the 15th annual Celebration of Champions at the Grand Ole Opry House.
In addition, longtime Cumberland baseball coach Woody Hunt was presented the Fred Russell Lifetime Achievement Award by the Nashville Sports Council.
Andrew's 13 years on Earth aren't near as long as Hunt's 32-year tenure with the Bulldogs, but they have been full of achievements nonetheless. He was born with a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome which left him without four fingers on each hand and both legs.
Perhaps because he never had those limbs, he didn't realize he needed them. He started playing middle linebacker in football at age 5. He led Mt. Juliet Christian's fifth- and-sixth-grade team, coached by his father, with 44 tackles, an interception, two fumble recoveries and five sacks last fall. He was also the leading scorer in basketball this past winter.
He even played baseball until last summer, when he took up running and won four gold medals last June in the Endeavor Games in Edmond. Okla. He set event records in the four events - the 60-, 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs.
"I like to say he just came out fighting," Mike Kittrell said of his son. "He's a pretty dedicated fellow.
"I push him hard. I probably push him too hard. 'Can't' is not in our vocabulary. I tell him you don't have to be different from anybody if he doesn't let it be."
The Endeavor Games are also a qualifying event for the Paralympics, which are held every four years shortly after the Summer Olympics have concluded, using the same facilities. Andrew Kittrell was too young for the London Games last year.
"His goal is to actually make the next one around in 2016 [in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil]," his father said.