One-handed Brownfield HS football player draws inspiration from - FOX34 Lubbock

One-handed Brownfield HS football player draws inspiration from Shaquem Griffin

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Under the Friday night lights, the Brownfield Cubs look the same in uniform, but with closer inspection, you'll notice an athlete with only one hand.

Roman Arenivar, a very normal 17 year old, was born with one hand and has embraced it. He's also found inspiration from someone with a similar story.

"At first I was shocked, I thought, how are we going to handle this, how are we going to get through this?" Mary Arenivar, Roman's mom, said.

Roman was born without his right hand and doctors still don't know why.

"They just thought maybe his arm had gotten caught in the umbilical cord, but they really never gave us any specifics of what had happened," Mary Arenivar said.

What could've held a kid back, was fuel to his fire. Mary started getting Roman involved in sports when he was five years old.

"I kind of went along seeing what he liked. If he wanted to try something I let him and I didn't stand in his way," she said.

He tried football, baseball, basketball and soccer. Football and baseball were the ones to stick.

"I had to get used to it, but in the long run it'll get pretty easy," Roman said about playing sports.

Two years ago, the Arenivars moved from Welch to Brownfield. Roman transitioned from six-man to eleven-man football. He also went from second string to playing an integral role on the field.

"Going into I thought, I'm not sure if I want a kid going in there with one hand playing center for me, I said we'll find somewhere for him to play, so he was a second string center," Duane Toliver, Brownfield's head coach, said. "Our first string center, a couple guys we tried, their balls were going everywhere, quarterback couldn't catch it and when he was getting second string reps every snap was perfect. Well, I was like, lets give him a chance and the rest is history. So he is the key to our offense because without a snap, we can't run a play."

"I'm just like everyone else. He don't hold me to different standards or anything, so I feel great about it, I love it." Roman added.

According to Toliver, Roman doesn't need to be treated differently because Roman has some of the best footwork on the team.

"I'll take him any day. You know, we had some a lot stronger guys, but he had the best snaps, and he does a great job of blocking," Toliver said.

If you travel 2,000 miles northwest, you'll find who Roman draws inspiration from. Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin is the first one-handed football player to be drafted in the NFL. He's a reminder to Arenivar that having one hand doesn't make you any less of a person or a player.

"That's pretty inspirational, I look up to him so one day I'd love to make it there and just have kids look up to me like him," Roman said.

"He see's them and he's like OK if they can do this I can too," Mary said.

"I think everybody has someone they can look to for inspiration and if he can look to Shaquem Griffin for inspiration, that's amazing," Toliver added. "Heck, I'm inspired by him. To see the things he's done and not letting any circumstance limit him, that's awesome."

"And I'm like, see, if they can do it so can you. Don't stop," Mary said. "If you want to go onto college playing football try your hardest and just keep on working at it and you can do it."

While Arenivar looks to Griffin for inspiration, he inspires and surprises those closest to him, all the time.

"He came back from school one time and he came to his mom me and my aunt and he was tying his shoes in front of us and I thought that was amazing," Tristan Rivero, Roman's cousin and teammate, exclaimed.

"I walked in on him one day lifting weights and he was doing the bar and I thought, 'Wow', I mean that amazes me, it just leaves you amazed," Mary added.

"Just watching him in there, we lift, and it's not like he wants any special treatment," Toliver said. "He just does whatever needs to be done. You know if he can't do it, he doesn't do it, but he always tries."

"We're like, ok, lets see if we can do it like he does and we can't. And you stop and think, how does he do it," Mary laughed.

To Roman, it's all easy.

"I don't think about having one arm," Roman said. "I think I'm just like everyone else."

While he comes across as shy, he shows his family and team, just how much he loves to joke around.

"With his friends, they're always playing around, even with his arm, they make jokes about it and I ask him if it bothers him and it doesn't. He'd rather have people asking him about it and joking around about it than feeling some kind of resentment toward it," Mary explained.

"He's going through and shaking everybody's hand and says, 'Hey, which one of you guys took my hand, who took my hand, did you take my hand?' by everybody he passes, you know, just having fun," Toliver laughed.

His personality matching some of his nicknames. His favorite, 'The one armed bandit.'

"I love that one. I just feel good about it," Roman laughed.

Roman is the starting center and kicker for the Brownfield High School football team.

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