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High school basketball: General Browns Black doesnt view disability as court handicap

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Black Browns handicap general doesnt

High school basketball: General Brown’s Black doesn’t view disability as court handicap

By MIKE KIWAK
MKIWAK@WDT.NET

PUBLISHED: SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2017 AT 12:33 AM

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DEXTER — Shea Black sees herself just like any other 16-year-old pursuing the sport she’s loved since childhood. Born with a congenital arm defect that left her without a right hand, she has worked to shrug off the supposed disadvantages on the basketball court.

“I never really thought I was different,” she said. “I acted like any other kid, I still do. I’ve done whatever I wanted and never really had any problems with it.”

During Friday’s practice, General Brown girls basketball coach Janelle Ferris began with a full-court rotational drill focused on passing and fluid offense. The girls took their turns rebounding shots from the prior group and relaying the ball to a teammate looking to finish the circuit. On the final run, Black corralled a touch pass from Kylee Rosbrook and dribbled down to the 3-point line. Black pulled up shy of the arc, balanced the ball on her shortened right arm and sank the shot, much to the delight of her applauding teammates.

“I always stayed positive about (the defect),” said Black, a sophomore. “I never let it bother me much even when there was a problem.”

Handling the ball has been her biggest obstacle, but she’s come up with adaptations to avoid becoming a liability in not just that area, but everywhere on the court.

“The team has it in mind to look for Shea in the best spots that set her up for success,” Ferris said. “That said, it’s her who has made a lot of adjustments.”

Black has just begun to carve out a role on the team, but Ferris praised her on-court play, impressive work ethic and passion.

“There are definitely limitations that will be there, like when teams defensively are pressing hard,” she said. “But she’s going to be a great role player for us going forward. We can use her in certain situations.

“She has a great shot. In fact, she’s one of the best shooters in the program.”

Such words are likely heartening to Shea’s father, Doug, who is General Brown’s head football coach and a former quarterback for the Watertown Red and Black.

More than 15 years ago in an interview with the Times, Doug Black recalled how he, upon learning of his daughter’s deformity, pondered, “How is she going to play sports?”

Shea, who has provided the answer, spoke warmly about how her father and mother, Jennifer, have assisted her.

“My parents were extremely supportive,” she said. “They’ve helped me through everything.”

Ferris considers the young player an inspiration to both the coaching staff and her teammates.

“You just watch what she goes through every day; little things that we take for granted like tying her shoes,” she said. “The other day she grabbed like 10 water bottles to carry into the locker room. We notice things like that as coaches, because that’s the heart she has. No matter what the job is, she’s going to do her best to get it done.”

Black, who also plays soccer, looks optimistically toward earning more playing time and becoming a better player. And while serving as an inspiration doesn’t necessarily top her list of priorities, she admits it is nice to be one now and then.

“I never really think about it much until someone says something to me like, ‘Oh you’re such an inspiration,’” she said. “I don’t expect to hear it, but when I do it makes me feel very proud.”

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