HOWARD CITY — Codey Minard was only 10 years old when he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. The boy who had loved nothing more than playing sports, particularly baseball, suddenly had to come to terms with the fact he would be spending his life in a wheelchair.
Eight years later, he’s still in a chair, but he’s also a member of Tri County High School’s varsity baseball team. In fact, he’s one of the team’s managers.
Despite his special circumstances, Codey is determined to follow his dreams: He wants to manage a minor league ball team.
If those dreams come true, Codey will be the first wheelchair-bound manager in the history of the sport. The odds are against him, but he’s not about let that slow him down.
“I’m going to MCC (Montcalm Community College) to take my basics and then transfer to another college to learn sports management,” Codey said. “I’m not sure which college; whichever one that will have me that will look good on my resume.”
Once out of college, Codey hopes to find work as a minor league manager. With strong math skills, he feels he would be a good pick for keeping track of and managing stats for any team. He’d be happy to find work with any team, but the West Michigan Whitecaps or (dream job alert) Detroit Tigers would be his first choices.
“I just want to be the first person in a wheelchair to be a manager,” he said.
A lifelong Pierson resident, Codey admits it will be hard to leave behind the friends he’s known since childhood. He has made a lot of them in his years at Tri County Area Schools and says the thing he will miss most about going off to college is the inevitable separation from old friends.
“It’s been fun and I have a lot of friends,” Codey said. “I’ve been here since elementary school and everybody treats me just like they treat someone who walks. I know a lot of people in wheelchairs that get treated different, but that doesn’t happen around here. I like being treated just the same as everybody else.”
As co-manager of the Tri County baseball team, Codey shows up at all the games, manages, and provides moral support to his teammates. In a way, he’s making up for time he lost in his sophomore year, when he missed three months of school following a major surgery.
According to Codey’s mother, Theresa Minard, he failed most of his classes last year. He might have wound up graduating a year late, with his younger sister Nicole’s class. It was the fear of that fate that spurred him to work especially hard to catch up.
“He was trying to work on catching up,” Theresa said. “I told him you’ll have to work over the summer or you’ll wind up graduating with your sister. He said, ‘Oh, I don’t think so.’”
Codey worked through the summer to make up the credits he had missed and will graduate with the rest of his class. He even attended prom, something his mother says he said he would never do.
“He was out on the dance floor,” Theresa said. “He had a great time. This has been a good year for him.”
Codey’s classmates don’t really think of him as “the kid in the wheelchair,” Theresa added. To most of his fellow students, Codey is the “funny one” who’s always cracking jokes.
Though there’s no cure for the muscular dystrophy that is slowly eating away at Codey’s muscles and his body will inevitably grow weaker with each passing year, the Tri County grad maintains nothing but hope for the future.
“No matter what your disabilities or limitations are, you just have to keep going on with what you want to do,” Codey said. “You just have to keep trying.”
Tri County High School
What: Tri County commencement
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Tri County High School gymnasium
Speakers: Kurt Mabie, former principal for Tri County High School, will give the commencement address
Number of Graduates: 139
Class Colors: Black and gold
Honors: Valedictorians Alicia Curtis, Landon Dailey, Cassandra Dexter, Emily Gould, Khyllian Lowry and Caleb Miller; salutatorians Jordan Adkins, Alexis Brock and Jordin Rubingh.
Class Song: “I Will” by OneRepublic
Class Motto: “In growing, we have found friends. In learning, we shared knowledge. In pride, we have left memories.”