Georgetown College cornerback Kody Kasey was sprinting down the field to cover a punt return during his team’s homecoming game in 2014, when suddenly he was hit from the side. Looking down at his leg, he could see that it was broken; he left on a stretcher. Few could have anticipated at the time just how much of an impact that one hit would have on Kasey’s life.
Kasey grew up in Pickerington, Ohio, and began playing football in the fifth grade. He played all through middle school, and by the time he got to Pickerington North High, he was on a team that included future Denver Broncos’ tight end Jake Butt and Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton. It wasn’t until Kasey’s sophomore year of high school that he played cornerback, the position he’d eventually play in college.
After a high school career during which Kasey played both sides of the ball (cornerback and wide receiver) and helped his team to the semifinals of the Ohio state tournament, Kasey decided to go to Georgetown, a NAIA school located in Kentucky. The Tigers boasted three NAIA championship titles and 17 Mid-South Conference titles by the time Kasey arrived in 2013. But for Kasey, one of the most important things about the school was its environment. “The people around Georgetown College played a big part,” he says. “I went on a visit, and it was amazing how friendly everybody was, and the atmosphere was very positive. I knew that they had a winning program and it was great academically.”
Fast-forward to the end of his freshman season, and Kasey had won Mid-South honors and accomplished much in his debut season as a Tiger. “He was a key part of our success that year, and that’s pretty unusual for a first-year player,” says Tigers coach Bill Cronin.
The next season, during that 2014 homecoming game against University of the Cumberlands, one play would change Kasey’s life forever. No one could have imagined the the severe leg injury he suffered on that punt return would require nine surgeries. No one could have predicted that his leg would require amputation below the knee.
“It was a journey,” says Kasey. “It was tough, but I was able to get through it. I had faith that Jesus had a plan for me.”
Kasey was determined to get back out on the field. One person who especially motivated him was Koni Dule, a former Montana State football player who was also an amputee. Kasey says he thought, “If this guy can do it, I’m definitely going to pursue it now.”
He did pursue it, learning how to run and play football with a prosthetic limb, despite the challenges. “It is tough trying to get in and out of cuts and go full speed and change direction on a dime, because I can slip,” Kasey says. He also says that his teammates and coaches helped him on his journey back to the field. “They knew that I was trying to get back to the field, and they pushed me.”
On September 1, 2016, two years after his first surgery, he took the field in uniform for Georgetown, overwhelmed to have the chance to play again. “Words can’t describe the feeling,” recalls Kasey. “I didn’t even play that game, but it meant so much to be out there getting ready to cheer on my brothers. From what I went through, it was just an amazing feeling to step out onto that field.”
His return also meant a lot to his teammates and to Cronin. “I was ecstatic for him and glad to see that he was back doing what he loved to do,” says Cronin. In the two seasons after his return, Kasey played primarily on special teams, tallying six returns for 88 yards for an average of 14.7 per return. He also played nine games at cornerback. In 2017, Kasey earned the Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Champion of Character and helped the team to a 9–2 record, a playoff win, and Georgetown’s best regular-season record in the past four years. He has been a motivator for all who watch him, play alongside him, and coach him.
As for his future, Kasey is set to graduate this spring. As a social justice major, he has been thinking about a career in the FBI or CIA or with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization of which he is the student president at Georgetown.
Kasey has drive and determination. He impacts those around him. Says Cronin, “Kody is the example of what an individual should be all the time, looking at the big picture and being grateful for what you have.”
Photographs by Richard Davis/Richard Davis Photography (2, action); Joe Goodwin/Goodwin Photography