As the holidays approach, no doubt most high school seniors are entertaining thoughts of graduation, making a college choice, choosing a career path, or maybe even picking out an ensemble for prom.
Senior football players meanwhile have thoughts of making it to a state title game, knowing in the back of their minds that at this time of the year, one loss and prep careers are over forever.
Then again, Pulaski County senior defensive tackle Carter Kring isn't like most seniors. In fact, Kring -- while probably entertaining thoughts of all the things above -- has something else on his mind these days. For Kring, he is just hopeful that he doesn't lose all of his eyesight before his senior year is over.
Kring -- a 6-foot-two, 230 pound defensive tackle -- is legally blind due to something that happened to him way back when he was around 10 years old, but that certainly hasn't slowed him down one bit.
The Pulaski County high school senior started having problems with his vision as a child, and later discovered that his problem with his eyes was the result of a spider bite.
"I was told that I was bitten in the back of the head when I was around 10 years old by either a Black Widow spider or a Brown Recluse -- they are not sure which one," stated Kring.
"I can't remember a whole lot about it because it was so long ago, but I know that I almost went totally blind at one point," added the PC senior tackle. "I've gained about 60 percent of my eyesight back thankfully, but at one point I was playing football totally blind."
Playing with a big-time disability such as being blind would probably force just about any player to call it quits and hang up the cleats. But again, Carter Kring isn't like most players.
In fact, the PC senior has thrived with his disability, and is a kid that teammates -- not only look up to -- but love like a brother, due to the shining example he has displayed for all to see.
Why you may ask? Well, there are many reasons for that.
Number one, Kring has never asked for special treatment, and has never made any excuses of any kind. Instead, he busts his tail at every practice, and on Friday nights, the Maroon senior gives it all he's got -- a fact not overlooked by the man who has had the privilege to coach him -- PC head coach Johnny Hines.
"He's just a great inspiration to all of us," stated Hines. "Carter is a kid that inspires us in everything that he does. He comes out here and goes as hard as he can every single day. He never complains, and he doesn't play the 'Woe is me card'. He goes 100 miles per hour all the time in all that we do."
"And, I'll tell you this about him," added the Pulaski County head coach. "No matter how bad his disability is -- currently, or whether it gets better over time -- Carter's the type of person that will beat it. He's a tough kid, he's very driven, and he will overcome it. To me, I think that's the best compliment you can give a kid."
Kring's story is truly remarkable. Here's a kid that is legally blind, but yet is still playing at a high level on the line of scrimmage for a very solid football program at Pulaski County High School.
So Carter, how do you do it?
"Honestly, football is the only thing that kept me going," stated the PC senior. "I've pretty much always been a lineman, both offensive and defensive. Whenever I am down in my stance, I can't really see the ball, so I have to go on sound. That's why I was playing on offense, because I knew the snap count and knew when to go."
"Defensively, I wait until I hear the ball being snapped, because I can make out the sound the ball makes on the grass as that is happening," Kring stated. "This happened as I was growing up, and it made me see that other people with disabilities are no different than anybody else."
Wow, what a perspective from a kid that is still in high school.
Kring is preparing for the fact that he may indeed lose all of his vision down the road, but that's not going to slow him down one bit. He is heading forward -- as coach Hines stated -- 100 miles per hour. No excuses and no 'Woe is me'. Carter Kring is living life to its fullest with the attitude of what will be, will be.
He truly is an inspiration to the Pulaski County fan base, the Maroon players and coaches. Carter Kring is truly a remarkable story, and those that have had a chance to be around him, day in and day out inside the PC football program, are very fortunate indeed to have been able to "see" how truly remarkable this young man really is.
Kring's vision may not be 100 percent, but his story and his great example of how to deal with a major disability have certainly opened the eyes of everyone inside the PC football program.
For that reason alone, that makes Carter Kring a winner in every aspect of the word. No matter who comes in contact with Kring, they can truly see that.