by Jeff Skinner
Every once and awhile I’ll come across a story that has nothing to do with golf but effects me greatly. This is one of those stories.
This story isn’t about golf. It’s about a young girl who loves basketball. It’s about a young girl that is faced with a challenge and forced to make choices that no twelve year old should have to make.
Alyssia Crook is like many other girls her age, she likes to have fun and she loves to play basketball. Unfortunately, Alyssia was born with a condition in her legs that affects her nerves, arteries, veins and cartilage. She has had many surgeries to improve the circulation issues and reduce the pain in her legs and even has treatments to try and straighten her legs.
All the while Alyssia had the dream to play basketball with her middle school team. To be one of the girls, have some fun and maybe score a few points. She tried out for the team but was one of the cuts that Coach Steve Roth had to make. But that didn’t stop Alyssia from being part of the team. She would travel with the team and keep their scorebook.
In February the doctors gave Alyssia’s parents a difficult choice. They recommended that either her legs be shortened or amputate her left leg which is more seriously affected. How do you tell your twelve year old that? Most twelve year olds are deciding which sneakers to wear, or what movie to watch or who they like on American Idol. Alyssia had an unimaginable decision to make.
Alyssia isn’t like most middle school students. She’s not like most adults either. After the initial shock she made her choice. “…she saw a vision of a boy and girl playing soccer, then basketball, then softball, then playing catch with a Frisbee. Eventually, she saw herself in the vision, a young mother with a prosthetic leg, and the kids were her own.
She shared the vision with her parents, and they started to speak, but she held her hand out.
“This is my body, my leg, my life, and I know God told me it’s my decision,” she said. “I choose to be a mom that can play with her children.”
And then the seventh-grader implored her mother to call the doctors and tell them she wouldn’t be hobbling around on legs half their size, “because (the doctors are) going to be cutting off my leg.”
Mature beyond her years she made her decision. She wanted to be able to be a mom and live a normal life. Seems like such a simple wish but such an important one for this twelve year old.
When her coach heard of her fate he knew she had another wish. On March ninth Alyssia suited up and ran onto the court with her team to the surprise of her parents and everyone else. In her next game she scored a point and then two days later she started in her last game before her surgery to remove her leg. With the energy that only a spirited twelve year old could muster she played her heart out. She had two steals, scrambled to the floor a few times and scored two points. She had her dream come true.
“I wanted to play with the real team. I wanted to be part of something. And when I grow up, I want to be playing with my kids, not a spectator.”
Alyssia may have been born with some physical imperfections but she is growing into an amazing young woman. I am sure her parents are proud of the young woman they have raised and they should be. It appears that with their guidance and love Alyssia will be able to handle most things that come her way.
She already has fulfilled one dream and soon enough she’ll be on to another.
Link to Prep Rally Blog.
Link to Tom Rademacher’s story in The Grand Rapids Press.