Ozarks Life: Nate Cummings thrives as Nixa’s team manager

Nate is a three-sport student manager for the Nixa Eagles and never misses a practice or a game.
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:10 AM CDT
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NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - Friday night football. In Nixa, it’s easy to see the hard work put in by the football team to win another game.

But if you look close enough, you might see the dedicated, determined, diligent work on the sidelines from team managers like Nate Cummings.

“We couldn’t be more proud of him,” Nate’s father Kevin Cummings said. “He amazes us every day.”

But day one was anything but amazing for Nate who was abandoned at birth at Mercy Hospital. As fate would have it this bouncing baby boy caught the eye of a NIC-U nurse.

“The birth mom had no prenatal care,” Nate’s mother Lynette said. “He was born in the ambulance. I’m just looking at this little, scrawny four-pound, one-ounce baby who needed to grow into his nose. And I’m looking at him and I’m like, just thinking, I feel like he needs us.”

Lynette and Kevin were thinking of becoming foster parents at the time. They knew they had more love to give.

“Kevin and I had lost our own son to prematurity seven years prior,” Lynette shared. “There’s always been that hole. And then I’m thinking, maybe we need him just as much as he needs us.”

Lynette applied for an adoption for the first time. She left out the part about being a nurse in the N-ICU; she didn’t want that to become a factor.

“I just tell (the hospital) about our family,” Lynette said, “and our girls, they were 14 and nine at the time. And she picked our letter.”

The family of four was now five. But as the months continued, these parents watched their son miss milestones. At 18-months they learned why.

“We got his diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome,” Lynette said, “and that was a shocker.”

“They said 80% won’t probably leave the home,” Kevin said. “You know, they’ll be in jail. It was just kind of a crushing blow. But we decided to focus on that 20% and say, you know, he can be anything he wants to be.”

The Cummings showered Nate with love, therapies, and classes. They even uprooted their family.

“We specifically moved here for the Nixa Special Education program,” Lynette said.

Over the years, Nate’s had an autism diagnosis, an anxiety diagnosis, and an ADHD diagnosis all stemming from the fetal alcohol syndrome.

“It is permanent brain damage when you have fetal alcohol syndrome,” Lynette said, “and so you won’t grow back.”

“To any pregnant mothers out there,” Kevin said, “please don’t drink. Please don’t do drugs. We are very fortunate with Nate. But there could be others that may not be as fortunate, but (fetal alcohol syndrome) is something that is preventable.”

Focused on his future, Nate made huge strides at Nixa but the John Deere loving boy needed one more thing - just to be one of the boys.

“(When Nate was) In junior high I’m like, ‘how can we get this kid out with his peers more,” Lynette said. “And I thought, ‘basketball!’ He loves sports.”

It started with managing basketball, and then came football, and finally baseball.

“Even if we took a loss or if we were down in the game,” Nixa baseball player Sam Russo said, “he was always there to brighten us up no matter what.”

“When I get subbed out of the game,” Nixa basketball and baseball player Jackson Bell said, “Nate always had a water, a towel, and a fist bump.”

“It’s great for his self-esteem and great for his confidence,” Lynette said.

Nate is a three-sport student manager for the Nixa Eagles. He never misses a practice or a game from August thru June.

“It’s a blessing,” Nixa baseball and basketball player Jaret Nelson said. “Because sometimes when you’re playing and it’s you’re in the heat of the game, a lot of it’s negative. And you see Nate and it just makes it so much better.”

We got this 16-year-old who has a girlfriend and he’s kind to the players,” Lynette said. “An amazing young man who has exceeded our expectations.”

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