Being born with only two fingers hasn't stopped high school student Pat Hurley from excelling in sports - he captains the soccer, basketball and baseball teams.
At the end of the school year, coaches from Catholic Memorial stare at a list of every student-athlete and search for the one who will be named the most outstanding athlete.
The panel looks for a student who thrives on and off the field, and looks for a young man who personifies all the values of a school that has a tradition of successful athletics throughout the years.
At the end of this year’s quest, it came as no surprise that the meeting of the minds produced Pat Hurley’s name for the honor.
Hurley, a three-sport athlete and captain of the soccer, basketball and baseball teams, has a story that goes beyond overcoming adversity. The 18-year-old senior was born with two fingers on his right hand, and earned every accolade that came his way with hard work and perseverance through a disability that would force others to not even give sports a try.
“He’s just tremendous,” Knights basketball coach Denis Tobin said. “He goes about his business with no excuses and he did everything that a normal player would do and more. So it just goes to show people that no matter what, you can achieve your goals. He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached.”
Hurley was not like every other kid who grew up in Roslindale as he began to come into his own in sports. He was born with only the thumb and pinky finger on his right hand, and knowing that it was his naturally dominant hand, that handicap would seem to cause sort of a problem. But making excuses was not in the Hurley bloodlines.
“We just let him play,” Bob Hurley, Pat’s father, said. “We made it like there was nothing different from his hand than anyone else.”
The younger Hurley taught himself to throw and perform other motor skills with his left arm and hand out of necessity because the strength of his right side was much weaker. He still writes — although, he joked, not that legibly, much to the chagrin of his teachers — and bats right-handed, but he managed well enough as a lefty to earn All-Star recognition in the Catholic Conference for baseball and become a scholarship athlete at CM.
“It was just what I made out of it,” Hurley said. “It’s obviously difficult playing basketball and playing baseball when I’m swinging. But it’s something you have to take advantage of and it’s something where you have to go into it thinking you can do anything. You just have to work hard at it.”
Hurley has committed to play baseball at Stonehill College, but there is another obstacle to overcome before he can pitch for the Skyhawks. During a preseason baseball scrimmage Hurley heard a pop in his left elbow. The news was not good, and on June 12 he will need Tommy John surgery to repair the damage.
Hurley wasn’t able to throw a pitch or play the outfield in a single meaningful game this season for the Knights, after expectations were for him to be the ace of the pitching staff. Instead of leaving his teammates behind and getting healthy, Hurley stuck around for the season and did his part as a designated hitter for a team that fell one game short of qualifying for the state tournament.
While surgery and rehab are expected to cost Hurley his freshman season of college ball, the process will certainly not stop him from playing the game. The work ethic that produced most outstanding athlete honors at CM will accompany him to the next level.
“If you are going to spend two hours each day you might as well go as hard as you can,” Hurley said. “There is no reason to go through the motions. I look at it, because of this disability, I’m kind of like an underdog and you have to keep working to get better.”