MILTON, Ga. -- Good news greeted a varsity basketball player from Milton High School, Zach Hodskins, as he was beginning his Senior year.
One of his life-long dreams is coming true.
Zach, who was born without his left hand and lower arm and is one of Milton's best players, just found out he has a shot at playing college ball.
The University of Florida has offered Zach a place on the team as a preferred walk-on next year.
"It means the world for me," Zach told 11Alive News Friday evening, "because my whole life I've worked for this opportunity, and I work hard every day in the gym, and for somebody to notice me, finally, for the hard work I've done, it's a great feeling."
|On 11Alive.com From Dec., 2012:
Zach's coach from his Junioryear at Milton, Van Keys, has seen the college scouting reports on Zach.
What's at the top of every report?
"They said he's an excellent shooter," Coach Keys said, "everybody says he can shoot the basketball, he shoots deep threes, he plays extremely hard."
Zach has seen the scouting reports, too, andhasnoticed that only rarely do the scouts even mention his one-handed abilities until further down in their reports.
"I love it to see that they've treated me as a player and a kid that can play on the 'next level' first, and then the disability second," Zach said with a smile. "When I was younger, coming up, there were doubts from older people and even myself that maybe one day I wouldn't be able to be in this position that I am now. And to have this opportunity to go through my senior year knowing that I am going to play at the next level is justa dream that I'm fulfilled with, and I'm happy to do it."
"Every day we have things we go through and we think it's never going to get any better, or we can't do something," Coach Keys said, "and you look at Zach, and you say, 'Hey, this kid's overcome quite a bit to be at the level he's at.' When he's on the court, he wants to succeed, he wants to do well, he plays extremely hard, he's very coachable, and he wants to win."
And Zach often receives tweets from other kids who have heard of him, who are going through tough times dealing with disabilities or other issues. And he tells them -- stay strong.
"It's just amazing to hear from them, and see that there are other people out there like me who are going through the same thing. And I can really relate to them, I love to talk with them.... Just keep your head up. And if you feel it in your heart, just go for it, and you will make it. And I hope that I've proven that example."
Zach's first goal is to play college basketball, and graduate. His next goal is to be a motivational speaker.
Coach Keys said he won't be surprised if Zach gets some college scholarship offers. And he said if Zach does go to the University of Florida as a preferred walk-on, he believes Zach has the talent and drive to improve andmaybeearn a scholarship there.
On Twitter: @JonShirek