By Mike Max

FOREST LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — Sam Ferraro has returned to his alma mater Forest Lake High School in his first year trying to rebuild a program.

“A lot of great kids, a lot of kids putting the time in,” Ferraro said. “It’s been fun coming back home.”

One of those kids is Vincent Dimitrov. He’s on the mend from an injury, still at practice — a senior who stands 4 feet 6 inches tall. He was born with a condition.

“Achondroplasia — it’s shortening of the limbs,” Vincent said.

His playing career is on hold right now. He made a decision that he loved football and he wanted to be a participant.

“Yeah, that’s always the thing being said, ‘You’re small, you can’t do it,’ right? Just be yourself, don’t say otherwise,” Vincent said. “I mean, when I see all the big guys out there, I find it a challenge, but I love it.”

And that’s where Vincent is impressive. No excuses, just an inspiring teammate.

“I mean, he’s kind of an inspiration — because you have a guy like him, everyone thinks they can come out and play, too. It’s not like just the select few who think they’re the athletes of the school or they’re the popular ones,” said Sam Locke, tackle for Forest Lake High School.

vincent dimitrov Forest Lake Football Player Shows Dedication, Heart

Vincent Dimitrov (credit: CBS)

So for the time being, he’s moved from player to manager — still present for his team, still motivated to make others better, still determined to be a part of it.

“Just his desire to play means a ton to everybody – the coaches, the players, the fans,” Ferraro said.

Being a teammate is what makes him tick, and those teammates are his friends.

“It’s been great — all the teammates and their support,” Vincent said. “They just help out a lot, they don’t make you feel out of place. You’re just one in the same.”

That’s what this sport is supposed to be about — to be on a team, to be about trying to make others better.

“He’s very excited. He gets pumped up, he starts running around, starts getting us pumped up. It’s great,” Locke said. “Most teams, they’ll have a couple guys that are doing that, but with him, his personality – it’s one in a million.”

That’s the takeaway — that Vincent cares a lot about the process.

“He’s very positive. He knows that he’s not going to get in the game, but he works just as hard or harder than anybody else,” Ferraro said. “He brings a lot of positive energy to the team.”

As much as he enjoys his interim as a student manager, he plans to put the pads on again as soon as possible.

“It’s interesting seeing the other guys out there,” Vincent said. “I want to be out there with them, but I can’t just yet. So hopefully I’ll heal pretty soon and go out there and play.”