Whether it was completing a high school cross country race with a broken collarbone, learning to talk at the age of 6 or thriving despite the daily obstacles presented by autism, Scott Howse has never backed down from adversity.
On July 20 the former Livonia Churchill long-distance standout and current member of the Schoolcraft College cross country team was recognized for his unwavering positivity by being presented with the Ralph E. Hay Honors award, a commendation designed for athletes who have achieved great feats in the face of adversity.
Howse received the award at the Canton Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket 5K post-race awards ceremony in Brownstown Township.
Adding to the specialness of the day for the Howse family was the first-place performance of Scott’s brother, Shawn, in the 5K race. Shawn Howse, who ran the entire race in bare feet, earned a berth in next month’s Gold Jacket Championship race set for Canton, Ohio, which is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Scott Howse, who placed third in the Gold Jacket 5K, was nominated for the Hay award by Ed Kozloff, who is the head cross country coach at Schoolcraft.
“I was excited when I found out I won,” Scott Howse said. “I was surprised because it came out of the blue.”
Diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, Howse defied some educators, who recommended to his parents, Ken and Connie, that Scott be institutionalized.
Non-verbal until the age of 6, Howse learned how to talk using music therapy – particularly the song “Jesus Loves Me,” which he had heard at church one Sunday.
Howse caught the running bug at Riley Middle School, where he won the city championship in cross country. He later excelled in cross country and track & field at Livonia Churchill while running under the guidance of John McGreevy and Rick Austin.
“I like to run because it calms me down,” said Howse, who runs approximately three miles, up to five times a week.
Ken and Connie Howse both revealed beaming smiles when asked about the pride they feel for Scott.
“Just knowing what he’s been through, we can appreciate the strides he’s made,” Ken Howse said. “Just getting into a school program was a huge step. He did really well in some subjects, but struggled in others. We came up with a customized program that helped him get up to a certain level in all subjects so that he could attend public middle school and high school.”
The Howses vividly recall the Churchill cross country race when their son got entangled in a large group of runners and tumbled to the ground.
“He jumped right back up and started running, but he was only moving one arm,” Ken Howse remembered. “His coach, John McGreevy, shouted for Scott to walk off the course so we could check him out, but he kept going.
“It turned out he had broken his collarbone, but he didn’t want to stop the race. We took him to the hospital after the race and he missed a few weeks of running, but by him finishing that race, it showed us what a competitor he was.”
Along with attending Schoolcraft and competing on its cross country team, Howse works three days a week at the Detroit Zoo.
He also co-authored a book with his mom – “Autistic and Awesome: A Proven Roadmap for Raising an Autistic Child” – which can be purchased on Amazon.com.
“I have wanted to write a book for quite some time that I thought would be meaningful for parents of children with autism,” Connie Howse said. “It’s an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand book that includes stories Scott wrote and research I have compiled over the years.
“It’s only been available for a few weeks, but it has received positive feedback so far. We could have published it as an e-book or a hard copy. We chose the hard copy because we figured people would want it on their shelf so they could have easier access to it.”
Scott Howse’s life has been jam-packed with notable achievements. For instance, in 2010, he became the first national athlete with a disability to earn Academic All-American honors.
In 2015, Howse will complete his eighth year with the Schoolcraft cross country team.
He is on track to receive his two-year General Studies degree in the spring of 2016.
“God is my biggest inspiration beyond belief,” Howse said. “He helps calm me down when I’m having a bad day or I’m angry and he lifts me up even higher on my good days.”