Greenwood Senior empowers himself and others through basketball

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. The Greenwood gators are one of the top teams in the Bowling Green area heading into the season. Plenty of experienced faces fill out the Gators roster, including Dalton Waggoner.

The 17 year old guard/forward always wanted to play sports. Basketball was his chance to be a part of a team.

“There such a difference because I can’t really play any other sports like I can’t play football, like baseball anything else and basketball was like the only sports I can play,” Waggoner said.

Dalton’s life has not been easy. At two days old Dalton was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis. The next day, he had heart surgery. Since then, he’s had four heart surgeries, helping alleviate an incurable condition.

“Dalton medical journey is just that its journey, his heart condition is not one that can ever be fixed,” Dalton’s mom Susan Waggoner said. “It’s just a repair to the next procedure, or the next surgery. He’s lived a lie of hospital stays and clinic visits. And it’s something that no child should ever have to endure.”

But through all the surgeries, Dalton had a support system; his family, his friends, and basketball.

“Basketball is a game and it’s just a game for a lot of people, but for our son is been the driving factor that’s got him back on the court that’s got him up out of bed at times, when it’s been easy to lay down,” Dalton’s father Guy Waggoner said.

“Yes, it’s always special to see him get on the court into make a shot, or making assist or help a teammate,” Susan Waggoner said.

“Now, I can still remember the day that we walked in the Drakes Creek Middle School after  he had two major open heart surgeries within two days,” Dalton’s father said. “And just to see get back in the routine of putting a basketball in his hand, he couldn’t shoot it from the three point line, he had to shoot it from right under the go, but just to see him smile, and get that you know, was a small sign that everything’s gonna, you know, gonna be better.”

His grit and resilience has impacted his team as a whole.

“It’s just positive reinforcement all the time,” Dalton’s teammate Jax Buchanon said. “Even actions just like a fist bump or anything. It’s just, he likes to encourage everybody and makes us better people.”

“Just seeing how he’s gotten through all of them and now fast forward a bunch of years, we’re all seniors now and he’s still with us and he’s gonna play this season.” Dalton’s teammate Cade Stinnett said. “So it’s just cool seeing how many obstacles he’s overcome.”

“If you’re ever tired within our practice, or something’s not going your way. It’s really easy just to look over that kid like that and think, man,  I’ve got pretty good here,” Greenwood Gators Head Coach Will McCoy said.

To Dalton, his story isn’t one about himself. It’s about inspiring others to push through their struggles.

“In April, we had the conversation, Dalton, you’re going into your senior year, basketball, we could be taken away from you, what would you want to do? And he said, Well, I’m gonna be there with my team. And we tend to worry about that a lot more than he does. I mean, it was just a natural reaction of why are y’all asking? I’m gonna be there with my team. You know, no matter what,” Guy Waggoner said.

“I would say like they’ve been probably told that they can do it and just keep doing it. Because I’ve been told before that like my doctor that I couldn’t play basketball more, but I’m still playing to this day,” Dalton Waggoner said.

The Greenwood Gators tip-off their season against Owensboro Catholic at Greenwood High School on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.