Zach Hodskins, who was born without a left hand, earned preferred walk-on status at University of Florida’s basketball team last season. Hodskins, who is now a sophomore guard, scored the first basket of his collegiate career during the Gators’ 89-65 victory over Jacksonville on Tuesday, December 22.
Despite being fouled, Hodskins drove past a Jacksonville guard and managed to sink the basket during the final seconds of the game, sending the crowd in the O’Connell Center in a frenzy, according to the Gainesville Sun.
“Really happy for Zach, a great young man, obviously overcoming an unbelievable adversity,” coach Mike White said. “He’s a very, very likable young man. You could tell by the decibel level in the O’Dome when he scored. It was a fun moment for our team and for Zach. Proud for him, happy for him.”
Hodskins, the six-foot-four Lexington, Kentucky, native, was 0-for-2 shooting as a freshman last season and was 0-for-3 shooting as a sophomore this season. His fellow teammates were beyond excited for Zach when he made his first collegiate basket.
— Kan Li (@kanli) December 23, 2015
“I was excited for him,” teammate Dorian Finney-Smith said. “I was here last year, and he never scored. I’m just happy he got it. He can shoot it, so I’m just happy he got that evil man hanging on the rim and knocking his balls out.”
Steven Douglas, of the Big Lead, said Hodskins actually drew the free throw after being fouled. However, after stepping up to the free-throw line, he missed the shot.
“Unfortunately, he missed the free throw,” Douglas wrote. “Still, that’s a great moment for any walk on playing D-I basketball anywhere in the country. Though this bucket may have been a bit more inspirational than most.”
Zach Hodskins’ basket was caught on video, and has since gone viral on social media, with many users commending Zach for his hard work, his dedication, and his motivation to never give up despite the obstacles he faces having only one hand.
Zach Hodskins of the Florida Gators is the living prophecy of ‘how bad do you want it’
— Mark Gualano (@MarkyG_15) December 23, 2015
Florida’s Zach Hodskins has only one hand. But that doesn’t stop him. https://t.co/VzfZG2xZmK
— The Sports Quotient (@SportsQuotient) December 23, 2015
There it is! Zach Hodskins gets his first basket with the #Gators and the whole place erupts. Such a cool moment.
— Kassidy Hill (@KassidyGHill) December 23, 2015
“Zach Hodskins Is The Perfect Example Of Everything Good About Sports… What A Blessing..” one Twitter user wrote, while another added, “I’m happier for Zach Hodskins than words can describe. You don’t see one-armed basketball players scoring layups every day. #ItsGreatUF.”
Zach was born without the bottom part of his left arm, which included his hand. However, he never let his disability stop him from doing whatever he set his mind to, including playing basketball. He started out playing basketball at his high school, and after being a standout player, got the walk-on offer from the University of Florida, proving that anything is possible.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 24, 2015
“When I’m out [on the court], I forget my arm isn’t there and just play ball,” Hodskins said during a 2013 interview. “Passion and love for the sport helps me overcome all obstacles. To this day. I haven’t come across anything I can’t do.”
Although Florida’s offer didn’t include a scholarship, it did give him the opportunity to play for a collegiate team, with the potential of earning a scholarship down the road.
What do you think about Zach Hodskins’ first basket as a college basketball player? Leave your comments below.
[Photo by Phil Sandlin/AP Images]