With only one hand, Sam Kuhnert was born different. Due to his perseverance, dedication and leadership, he has become a successful athlete, role model and coach. At the young age of 18 he founded the national nonprofit organization Nubability Athletics. But that is just one part of the story.
From the age of 3, Same had a love for sports, yet he was always doubted by coaches because of his difference. In high school, Sam was a 3 sport athlete and on his way to Greenville University to play baseball at the collegiate level. Further adversity followed, however, as a deadly diagnosis took Sam from the mound. He overcame the diagnosis and went right back to the mound until an injury officially ended his career. To this day, he still holds the Morthland College ERA record.
Today Sam leads a team of 80 coaches with NubAbility Athletics Foundation and serves as the CEO. Sam develops adaptive devices for the limb-different athletes. Sam is also a motivational speaker making game changers by the thousands.
You can read an overview of the interview with Sam Kuhnert or listen to the podcast below for the full interview.
Q. Can you tell us about your program?
A. Our program is called NubAbility Athletics Foundation, and we teach children ages 4 to 17 born with limb differences and amputees to play mainstream organized sports. We have a team of over 80 accomplished limb difference coaches, which means at a bare minimum they’ve played Varsity sports. Most of our coaches are former collegiate athletes that rank anywhere from D3 to NAIA to D1 schools. We have a Maxwell award winner who is our head football coach, and a guy who played for the University of Florida as our basketball coach. We have a very accomplished staff, and I am very happy about it. By having this staff of accomplished limb difference athletes who have been there, it takes away any excuse they have holding them back. Imagine having a mentor that looks just like you. Every kid at some point is matched up with a coach who has the same limb difference who can help mentor them, train them, teach them to tie their shoes, whatever they need.
Q. What was the biggest challenge in getting this off the ground?
A. Honestly, the biggest challenge was trying to find a voice for it. In 2012 we had our first camp, which was the summer after my freshman year of college. We had 19 kids show up from all over the country, and 7 coaches I had recruited and found from social media and Google. When social media started really blowing up I thought man, we really need to start using this to make more of a presence for our camps. After we had our first camp we just started building our platform through Facebook primarily, and started doing whatever we could to get the word out.
“It’s about competing against their peers and siblings. Because that is the real competition in life. They are not going to be competing against athletes like them in life, in sports or jobs. We wanted to build the overall athlete with that. Our programs are like any other college run sports camp, and we take pride in that. We aren’t teaching kids there will be someone there to pick them up, we are teaching kids how to pick themselves up.”-Sam Kuhnert