COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - By Kim Smith
It's the weekend of the Georgia prep football playoffs, and the Northside Patriots are gearing up for a big test against Northside of Warner Robins.
As the team hits the road looking to get past round one, there's one Patriot who won't suit up or even take the field, but he's a key player nonetheless.
Meet Travis Underwood: not only does he man the sidelines for the Northside Patriots, he also plays one of the most important positions on this offense.
"Technically I play Ball Boy," Travis explains.
But Travis isn't just your typical Ball Boy. You see, the Northside Patriots like to run hurry up no huddle offense, which makes Travis' job vital.
"It's more of a position now," Travis says. "I can dictate our pace of play on offense. If the ball is wet. So I play an important role it's quite stressful."
Stressful, and strategic. Travis knows every little detail about the ball, the conditions, and what the player will need to perform at his best.
"We get to the ball park, I know Travis has it all taken care of," says Northside Head Coach Morgan Ingram. "I tell him all the time I can't do it without him."
Growing up, Travis was in love with sports but he battled his conditions with cerebral palsy which affects the left side of his body and kept him out of some competitions.
However, his disability never slowed him down.
"My disability never really did hold me back," Travis says. "Now it's actually funny because it's leaping me forward. Now it's allowing me opportunities to go to my dream university… and to play for my dream teams."
Travis is now involved in several adaptive sports leagues. He also plans on attending his dream school to play wheelchair basketball at Auburn.
"The only thing holding you back is your mindset and once you get your mindset that you can do it, that you can be a good athlete, that's all it takes," Travis says.
There's no doubt Travis' positive attitude is contagious.
"It just tells us that how much of a dedicated part of the team he really is and we take him in as a part of the family," says Northside Quarterback Levi Dunn.
So you can call him Ball Boy, but the Northside Patriots call him a teammate, a winning part of every down, every play, and every moment as a family.