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Tri-State senior quarterback makes good on vow to return after rare diagnosis

Drew Warth was told he would never play football again. He told his coaches something else.
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 8:28 PM EDT
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BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - For Cooper High School quarterback Drew Warth, just playing each game on Friday night is a win.

The best player on one of the better teams in Northern Kentucky, Warth is also the president of his senior class and an undisputed personality around campus.

But one day he came to football practice, and something wasn’t right.

“He showed us his arm,” said Cooper Head Football coach Randy Borchers, “and it was all purple and blue and swollen, and at that time we knew something was wrong.”

Warth had been wheeling and dealing on the football field with a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, which is when blood vessels or nerves compress between the collarbone and the highest rib.

In Warth’s case, years of throwing had triggered symptoms so severe, the quarterback started losing feeling in his arm.

“My blood wasn’t flowing to my upper extremities correctly, so my whole arm would turn blue, purple and black and stuff,” Warth explained. “I couldn’t get in the shower and wash my hair without my arm going completely numb.”

An MRI confirmed the diagnosis. Warth would need multiple surgeries before the start of his junior season.

“They took out twelve muscles and they took out 90 percent of both of my top ribs,” he recalled. “The surgeries were three months apart. I was told I wouldn’t play my whole junior season and potentially, and in most cases, probably never play again.”

But the scars healed, and Warth vowed to his coaches he would be ready for his senior season.

He was.

“We tell, we preach to our kids every day, you know, you never know when football is going to be taken away,” Borchers said. “Any play, your career could be over. And I think he’s an example, and he’s that kid that understands that because he was in that situation.”

Now Warth is back slinging dimes for Cooper High, and he hopes to continue playing ball in college.

“I’ve just found a greater appreciation for everything in my life. My perspective has completely changed on everything. I really think I’m a lot better of a person for this,” he said.

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