Hardin-Simmons Football Players Have Heart

HSU Football players reach out to fellow classmate and help fulfill a lifelong dream.


Homecoming at HSU is nothing short of exciting, but for one senior, this homecoming weekend was nothing short of a dream come true.

Austin Rinard, senior exercise science major from Big Spring, has always dreamt of running through a tunnel onto the field as part of a football team – a dream that never seemed possible because of a genetic heart condition.

This summer, Rinard took an outdoor education class where he shared his dream and the condition which stood in his way.  Two classmates, also HSU football players, heard Rinard’s story and wanted to see what they could do to help. 

Raustin Harris, senior exercise science major form La Vernia, and Gabriel Garner, senior exercise science major from Weatherford, knew immediately that they had the power to do something. 

“This was something small that we could do that might be big for him,” said Garner.  “I’ve known him for a while and we wanted to help.”

The students went straight to Jesse Burleson, HSU’s head football coach, and explained the situation. 

“He was very open and approved it right away,” said Harris.

Tuesday before the big game, Harris and Garner told Rinard the great news.

“I was speechless,” said Rinard, “and when I told my mom, I was so excited, I had to calm down and repeat myself.”

Not only did Burleson endorse this small act of kindness, he brought the gift up a notch by allowing Rinard to wear the #45 jersey and participate with the captains during the coin toss.

“We were pleased to make this happen. I was proud of our guys (Raustin and Gabe) for reaching out and coming up with this idea on their own,” said Burleson. “I believe that it shows the character that our players possess and display to others.”

Rinard was a welcomed addition to the team as the Cowboys went on to a 19-12 homecoming win and, though he never played a down, the victory on the scoreboard could not fully express the triumph of the day. 


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