SHINER - Alison and David Hewig have the same reaction every time their son carries the Shiner flag while leading the Comanches on the field.
Carrying the Comanche flag, Shiner manager Kyler Hewig leads his team onto the field at Comanche Stadium earlier this season.
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photo by Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate
"It's amazing just to see him run," Alison said.
Kyler being alive is reason enough for his parents and younger sister, Carley, to give thanks.
"People say he's a miracle child," Alison said. "He's more than one. He's numerous. We tell him he's a true Comanche. He never gave up."
Kyler, 17, is a senior and in his third season as a manager for the football team.
But Kyler's and his family's life was forever altered on a sunny Monday in May of 2008.
Kyler was sitting behind his father on the passenger side of their car on a family trip to Austin when a rock propelled by a shredder crashed through the window and hit him in the forehead.
"It was like a bomb hit our car," recalled Alison, who was driving. "David thought maybe it was a gunshot. I looked back and saw that Kyler was really hurt. David looked back and saw that Carley was OK."
Gonzales paramedics arrived quickly on the scene and Kyler was taken by helicopter to University Hospital in San Antonio.
The prognosis was grim when the family arrived at the hospital a few hours later.
"Something hit him in the front of the head and it was awful," Alison said. "He had a hole in his head and his brain was right there. When the neurosurgeon saw us that night, he said it was really bad and that at the end of the surgery one of Kyler's pupils responded a little bit so he had a little bit of hope. But when they came the next morning, I think they were surprised that Kyler was still there."
Kyler was originally placed into a coma, but began to respond after a shunt was placed in his head.
"It was my birthday (in June) and I'm a Texas person," Alison said. "David said to Kyler, Give them 'Hook 'Em Horns,' and he did it and we were like, 'Wow.'"
Alison, who is a nursing instructor at Victoria College, and David, who works at Boedeker Plastics, were able to travel to San Antonio and stay with their son thanks to support from their family and members of the community, who held a benefit for Kyler.
Kyler came home in July and continued therapy at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital in Victoria. He returned to classes by the start of the next school year.
"Sometimes it's a little hard," Kyler said. "But if I keep working at it, I'll get it."
Kyler has been through so many plastic surgeries his family has lost count. He has a scar above his right eye, on his neck and his leg, but his recovery has been nothing short of miraculous.
Kyler Hewig, right, who was 9 years old at the time, undergoes therapy two months after suffering a head injury. Hewig, 17, is in his third season as a manager for the Shiner football team.
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"The one thing the doctor said he had on his side was his age," Alison said. "He was young so his brain could learn. He's still adapting to the circumstances with every milestone. Driving was a big deal. It took to him a while to start talking, start walking, even eating and swallowing."
The Kyler who returned to Shiner was not the shy, serious type his family and friends had known. Instead, he has become outgoing and gregarious.
"Kyler was very quiet before his accident," David said. "We call that the old Kyler. Now, he does not meet a stranger."
The injury left Kyler blind in his right eye and prevents him from participating in contact sports.
But Shiner athletic director and head football coach Steven Cerny, who was a close friend of Kyler's grandfather and former Shiner teacher and coach Carlind Blohm, came up with an idea to keep Kyler involved.
Cerny asked Kyler if he would like to become a manager for the football team and carry the flag before games.
"When coach Cerny asked me if I wanted to run the flag out, I was sitting at lunch thinking my grandfather would be proud of me because he had passed away before seeing me play football," Kyler said. "So I walked up to coach Cerny at lunch and said, 'I'm going to do it.'"
Cerny hasn't regretted his decision and even issued Kyler his own jersey - No. 7 - for games.
Kyler not only runs the flag out, but goes out on the field for the coin toss with the captains, helps with the equipment, and picks up the tee after kickoffs.
"He brings that flag out and reminds us every day how lucky we are," Cerny said. "We get that opportunity to still get out there and play and that was taken from him. But he's made the most of it. I've never seen him in a bad mood."
The players appreciate the enthusiasm Kyler brings to the team.
"It's a good thing," said senior Marcus Rodriquez, who met Kyler after moving to Shiner in the fifth grade. "Even when things are bad, he always has a smile. He always has that energy. He always brings up the team."
The Comanches will take a 12-0 record into Friday's Class 2A, Division I regional playoff game against Flatonia at Ricebird Stadium in El Campo.
Kyler isn't surprised with this season's success, and is happy to be a part of the team.
"The chemistry between all the boys is incredible," Kyler said. "I am close with almost all the football players. If he (Cerny) would have never asked me, I wouldn't be friends with all these awesome people."
Kyler admits retaining information is difficult, but has worked hard enough to become a member of the National Honor Society.
He plans to attend Victoria College in the fall.
He enjoys helping his father work on an old pickup in their "man cave," and hopes to major in mechanical engineering.
Kyler knows achieving his goals won't come easy, but figures he's got a head start on beating the odds.
"What happened, happened," Kyler said. "I fought through it. What the doctor said is I had almost no chance of living. I came back on my feet."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for The Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video: Kyler Hewig Interview
Shiner's Kyler Hewig talks with Mike Forman at practice.
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