‘None In The Gap’ helps Madison Memorial punter
Once upon a time, Lancaster native Josh Clauer dreamed of playing punter in the NFL.
He never quite accomplished that feat, and hung up his cleats for good in 2005.
Since then, Clauer, through an organization called None In the Gap, has worked to help underprivileged kids achieve their dreams.
Last year, Clauer met Mateo Mora. Then 13, Mora’s passion for kicking the football stood out.
“He came at me as very intelligent, and someone who wanted to get it,” Clauer said.
Aside from Mora’s enthusiasm, Clauer also noticed something different about the young teen. Mora was born without a left hand, leaving Clauer scratching his head.
“I was a little skeptical at first, about punting, because you have to catch the ball.”
Soon after they began working together, Mora proved Clauer wrong. Mora has spent his whole life proving others wrong, starting with himself wrong at an early age.
“When I was little, it kind of got to me. I was like, ‘Man, I wish I could be like this person or that person,'” Mora says.
Mora adapted to his circumstance at a young age, and started believing in himself. He even played football with his friends at recess, using his size to his advantage.
“I was always bigger than the other kids, so catching the ball over them was fun, but I eventually developed into kicking.”
After playing youth football for the Southside Raiders, Mora enrolled at Madison Memorial this fall.
A year after he started working with Clauer, Mora faced doubters again.
“They probably didn’t think I would even play football, but then they saw me punt and kick field goals.”
Mora’s kicking sessions with Clauer paid off.
Today, Mora kicks and punts for the Spartans freshman football team, with aspirations to someday kick for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Clauer has competed with the best, and says Mora has what it takes.
“What separates the men from the boys is the heart. He has the heart that keeps me around.”
Mora wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s not really a birth defect, because with out it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”