Smallest man stands tallest on Colerain gridiron

Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 18:39:19-04

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Friday nights across the Tri-State mean some huge battles between rival teams on the football field, but a Colerain High School student is fighting a much bigger battle off the gridiron.

By now, it’s no secret: it’s been another good year for Colerain Cardinals football, but in the land of giants who block and tackle, the smallest man may be king.

Noah Kennedy — standing all of 4 feet, 5 inches — is in his third year as the Cardinals’ team manager. And he’s poised to make some seriously big dreams come true.

Count the head coach, Dan Bolden, among those who thought that would never happen.

“Several years ago, Noah was a freshman, and he walked into my office,” Bolden recalled. “I had honestly thought there’s an elementary student loose in the building.”

But it’s not that Noah is so short that makes his case special: it’s why.

Noah’s mother, Sara Goebel, said she remembers the day that changed her life forever. Noah was just 3 days old when doctors told Goebel her son had been born with Hirschprung’s disease, a serious condition that affects the large intestine.

On top of that, Goebel said, doctors also diagnosed him with another intestinal ailment, Crohn’s disease.

The combination of the two, she said, only happens once in every 10,000 people.

Noah was that one.

The surgeries that followed, for the first month of Noah’s life, involved removing the boy's entire large intestine. Ultimately, doctors turned Noah into a little “bionic man.”

“In a sense, they have pretty much rebuilt me on the inside,” he said.

Now, nearly 16 years later, besides managing what could be a championship team, Noah works four hours each night at a fast food restaurant, all while maintaining straight-A grades.

When he goes off to college in a couple years, he said, he wants to major in sports management and one day own his own professional sports team.

“I don’t want to say it’s been easy, or (that) it hasn’t been hard, either,” he said. “It’s just been complicated.”

His, indeed, has been a complicated life, unlike most others. But what Noah Kennedy has done with it — not bad at all.

“Other than being short,” Noah joked.

Keep it up, young man. You’re on track for big things.