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Hartselle Enquirer

Message of Hope

An audience of hundreds listen to Clay Dyer Saturday night at the Wild Game Supper.

Professional angler Clay Dyer uses faith to overcome handicap

“Can’t” is a contraction that doesn’t appear in the vocabulary of Clay Dyer.
The professional angler from Hamilton owns a business, does numerous speaking engagements each year and coaches football at Hamilton High School. Yet he doesn’t have arms or legs. To others, that might make them feel different, but Dyer doesn’t see it that way.
“When others ask me if I wished that I had been born with legs and arms, I tell them ‘no,’” Dyer told the crowd gathered for First United Methodist Church’s Wild Game Supper Saturday. “If I did have arms and legs like everyone else, I think I would take it for granted.”
With that attitude, Dyer, 32, hasn’t thought of himself any differently than any other person. He doesn’t let his handicap stop him from doing the things the normal day-to-day things such as dressing himself or going fishing.
No one has to help Dyer cast his line, reel in his fish or take them off of the line. Videos shown during the wild game supper showed just how Dyer competes in his fishing tournaments without the help of anyone.
What has kept Dyer going is his faith in God and a good sense of humor.
One time, Dyer asked his father for a new rod and reel that cost about $350. Dyer could tell that his father was getting a little irritated with him because he kept asking him about the equipment.
Once his father calmed down a little bit, Dyer tried a different approach to get the rod and reel.
“I told my dad, ‘Just think about all of the money I saved you because you never had to buy me new shoes,’” Dyer said. “My dad didn’t know what to say. He looked at my mom. She said, ‘That’s a pretty good argument.’”
His dad gave him the Visa and he ordered it.
Dyer started fishing at 5 and began tournament fishing at 15. Highly competitive, Dyer has not allowed his physical disabilities to be an obstacle earning the respect of his fellow anglers on the pro circuit.
A professional angler since 1995, Dyer has fished in more than 200 bass tournaments including the FLW tour and placed first in about 20 state bass tournaments. Although he’s yet to win a professional tournament, he knows it’s going to happen.
In addition to fishing, he helped lead the Hamilton football team to a 14-1 record and a berth in the Class 3A state finals in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
He attributes some of that success to a change in schemes, thanks to the Hartselle High School coaching staff.
“We came over this last summer and the Hartselle coaching staff showed us what they were doing,” Dyer said. “We started doing the same thing this season and it really helped our defense improve.”
Although Hamilton lost to Leeds 42-32 in the championship game, Dyer said this past football season was a great season. The 32 points scored in the championship game was the most Leeds gave up last season.
The senior class at Hamilton also finished 37-4, losing only one regular season game.
There were three things that Hamilton did every day: have a daily devotional, pray and “every day we win,” Dyer added.
“It just feels so awesome to lead those young men,” Dyer said.
The one experience that changed his life came just one month after graduating high school in 1996. He agreed to go to a revival service with a girl named Leah.
He wasn’t expecting to have a religious experience that night. All he wanted to do was be with the girl.
“I wasn’t really focused on the right things in my life,” Dyer said. “I was just going through the motions of going to church and not living right.”
However, that Friday, he woke up scared to death. Dyer said he’d never been scared like this before.
“I would always get nervous before a big tournament, but never get scared,” Dyer said. “I told Leah that she may have to take me to the emergency room because I felt like I was going to die.”
Dyer said they went on anyway and he was just amazed at what happened that night. He said the praise and worship was great along with the message that night. Then, the pastor began praying the closing prayer.
Dyer said a large number of people “flooded” the altar that night. He didn’t quite understand what was going on. So he walked down to the altar too.
There he met a guy he’d known all of his life. He asked Dyer if there was something wrong. Dyer shrugged it off and said he was OK, but the guy asked Dyer again. Dyer then told him that he sensed he was going to die.
The guy asked Dyer if he could pray for him and Dyer said yes. Then Dyer stopped him in the middle of his prayer and wanted to pray the sinner’s prayer in his own way.
Dyer said that was the moment his life changed.
“God allowed me to go through an awesome experience like this,” Dyer said. “I don’t know if I would be where I am today if I didn’t have that experience.”
Dyer, who is an avid Alabama fan, did something this year that he’s never done before – say “War Eagle.”
He sent it in a text to one of his good Auburn friends.
“He texted me back, ‘Are you sick?’” Dyer said. “I replied, “No, I just wanted to see a team from Alabama win the national championship.”

Professional angler Clay Dyer talks about his life and overcoming his handicap during the Wild Game Supper at First United Methodist Church Saturday night.
Clay Dyer shakes hands with Vann Morrow while Aprille and Carl Flemons look on.

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