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Queen Creek teen in wheelchair gears up for wrestling season

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — A 14-year-old boy with special needs in Queen Creek has no limitations.

Cole Ludwig is in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him from being on the Newell Barney Junior High School wrestling team.

“At first I just thought it was a young kid wanting to just come hang out with a team,” said Joe Fraley, Cole’s wrestling coach. “But as Cole continued to come and continued to show up to practice and talk more about wrestling, it became very clear that he wanted to be a member of the team.”

Cole has been wrestling for three years. He has been able to do so with the help from his coach.

Fraley said he helps Cole get to the wrestling mat during matches and shows him what movements and techniques to follow.

Cole’s passion for wrestling is helping him improve his mobility. He is starting to walk for longer distances and hopes to one day be able to walk on to the wrestling mat on his own.

Fraley said Cole is an inspiration not just for him, but also his teammates.

“You look at Cole and you see the disabilities that he has,” Fraley said. “He doesn’t care. He doesn’t use his disabilities as a reason not to do something.”

“He’s just the epitome of what hard work and effort will do for anyone,” he added.

Cole was set to kick off this year’s wrestling season on Saturday by participating in the East Vally preseason wrestling tournament.

But wrestling isn’t all he does.

His dad, Troy Ludwig, said he also plays baseball, basketball, football and bowling. He also does horseback riding.

“I let him be who he wants to be,” Ludwig said. “I don’t treat him like he has a disability. I treat him like a normal kid.”

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