Oak Hill football player overcomes club feet to become all-conference linebacker – WTHR

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Josh Turanchick reads the part of Ross in the Shakespeare tragedy Macbeth in senior English class at Oak Hill High School.

“‘I dare not speak much further, but cruel are the times when we are traitors and do not know.'”

You might read Josh’s own story as tragic. He doesn’t.

Josh was born with club feet, severely pigeon-toed. Corrective surgery and casting began when he was just an infant. For one year, a bar connected his shoes and kept his feet locked in place all the time.

More surgery came at age two for complete tendon transfers, then another major surgery at age five reconstructed Josh’s feet with cadaver bones. He had to use a wheelchair and learned to walk three different times by first grade.

“My feet still hurt from time to time,” said Josh, strolling down the football field after school in Converse, Indiana, “but I’m out here on a football field walking and playing sports. Doctors originally didn’t think I would be able to walk properly, let alone play sports. So when I go back to them, it’s always their joy to hear.”

You would never know the feet pain Josh lives with watching this all-conference linebacker and team captain make tackles for the Oak Hill Golden Eagles.   

“Because of my club feet, it’s taught me so much more in life,” said Turanchick. “Sometimes the greatest things come from tough situations. My club feet have just taught me how to work hard. On the football field, I’ve had to work harder to be here.”

“Josh has never wanted you to feel sorry for him,” said Oak Hill football head coach Bud Ozmun. “He knows what he’s dealing with. He does not look at that as a crutch or excuse. He just uses it as a challenge and motivation to make himself better.”

Josh eventually had to give up other sports to save his feet for football. He played through pain as a three-year starter for Oak Hill and made almost 200 tackles in just the last two seasons.   

“You can’t have a player come off and whining about ‘it’s too hot’ or ‘my shoulder is banged up’ when you have Josh out on the field overcoming what he’s doing, and doing what he’s doing to stay on the field at all times,” said Ozmun.

“I know I have to work twice as hard as they do to be here,” Josh said. “That’s what kind of drives me. It’s what made me so good, being all conference and good motivation for the underclassmen. Be glad you’re here. Take in the moment. Give it everything you got.”

Coach Ozmun did not let Josh play offense during his junior season, trying to save his feet for defense. But Josh convinced his coach to let him play tight end on offense as well as linebacker for his final season.

Ozmun recalls the conversation.

“We’ll make a deal,” Ozmun told Josh. “We’re going to do this. You’re going to get both sides of the ball. If your defense starts to suffer, I’m going to take you back off offense and just worry about you defensively. I’m not sure he missed an offensive snap all year.”

Josh ranks in the top five of his class and plans to pursue a medical career. He has played his final football game, but few expected him to ever play his first.

Josh is one of four honorees receiving the Brady Comeback Scholarship Award from Methodist Sports Medicine at the 11th Annual Brady Sports Achievement Awards on Thursday, April 14. WTHR is a partner for the program at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

Former Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian is the keynote speaker.  The program will also honor Polian, recent inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 2006 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts team with the Brady Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) will present 13 C. Eugene Cato Memorial Scholarships as well to high-achieving student-athletes from across the state.

This event was established by the Methodist Sports Medicine Research and Education Foundation to raise charitable contributions to support and enhance the research, medical education, Indiana Sports Concussion Network and care undertaken by Methodist Sports Medicine.