VAN ALSTYNE, TX -- A Texoma community is coming together, rallying behind one of their well-known and beloved high school athletes who is in the ICU after an accident earlier this week.
And though doctors say he has a tough road to fight through, those who know Riley Sprowl say that's what he does best. He fights to improve.
Everyone we talked to was quick to point out...the multi-talented athlete Riley Sprowl is not be the biggest kid on the field.
"But in heart and tenacity, he is oversized. And that's the way he's been the whole time."
Darrell Hardcastle coaches Riley in football and baseball at Van Alstyne High School and says he's a person everyone should strive to emulate.
"He will hold you accountable, but he doesn't hold you accountable without doing what it takes to earn that respect. And he has the respect of his teammates."
Those teammates, along with the entire Van Alsytne community, are now rallying behind 16-year-old Riley, who's in serious condition in the ICU.
Riley hit a fence pole Wednesday while sledding with some friends. He had to be flown from the scene to Parkland hospital in Dallas with a spinal injury.
"The doctors had hopes to move him out of intensive care today. But there are a few things they wanted to monitor, keep a close eye on."
Family friend, Jeff Burge, is with the Sprowls in the hospital. He says they are very thankful for the community's support, and describes Riley as having a heart of gold.
"The most polite, respectful young man. You would want this kid as your own son."
Riley was named to the all-district team this year as a safety. But Athletic Director Mikael Miller says what makes him special goes far beyond the football field.
"He's a tough kid. He's a leader for us out here. And everything we do whether it's in the weight room, locker room, on the field, in the school, whatever, we can look to him together to follow him in the right way."
The family has a fund set up with Independent Bank for people wishing to donate. But they're asking for the community's prayers as well.
"Riley has said from the very beginning of the accident he knew God had a plan, and God will work through this," Burge said.
His coaches say he's always fought hard--on and off the field--and they know he's not about to quit now.
For updates on Riley's condition and more on how you can help the Sprowls, click on the link at the top right of this article.