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Athlete of the Week: Spanish River's Ryan Veingrad

The Spanish River football team is on the up and up, and senior Ryan Veingrad is a big reason why. Not only is the 6-foot-3, 225 pound defensive end a huge force on the field, but his battle with cancer has ultimately instilled a winning attitude.

"Who wants to be told they have cancer?" asks Veingrad, rhetoically. "I mean I'm a 17 year old boy, I definitely don't want to be told that."

But that news two years ago could not have been more shocking to Veingrad - already forced to the football sidelines following knee surgery ...now diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"I definitely had some nights where I would cry because I couldn't deal with the fact that all my hair was gone, and I lost all the weight that I tried so hard to build up. "It shuts you down a little bit."

But Veingrad would not be shut out, fighting back to play his junior season at a limited physical form. Now cancer free, he's back full strength for his senior season.

"There's no excuses," says teammate Shimon Hoffman. "Knowing what he went through, if he can do it anyone can do it."

"He played through, and he played hard, and that made other kids know that regardless of what I'm going through if I'm tired if I can't go any more," says Spanish River head coach Bill Caesar. "They can look at Ryan and he's an inspiration."

"Spanish River is my heart," says Veingrad. "Coach Caesar and Coach Harrison, best coaches I could possibly ask for. I've never seen coaches try so hard with someone to get them to the next level."

And with 5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss so far this season, Veingrad is *once again* a force on the football field, now with a whole new outlook.

"You can never really judge a person with what's going on in their life because you don't fully know. So it definitely opened my eyes to the world a little more."

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