SPENCERPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Soccer was the first sport Ruby DePalma tried, but lacrosse is where she fell in love. “I just thought it was a lot different from any other sport that I played and I really liked the pace of it,” said the Spencerport junior.
However, the learning curve was a little bit steeper because DePalma only has one arm from the elbow down. “Having the mindset that I can do anything, but I might just have to it differently than other people has just helped me not get frustrated,” she said.
DePalma was born with one arm and now isn’t just a member of the Spencerport varsity team, but she’s also one of the team’s leading scorers with seven goals and six assists this season. “Are there any limitations? The answer is no,” said her head coach Trish Condon. “There’s nothing that I have asked of these players that Ruby can’t do. If anything is challenging, she’s made modifications on her own and she’s better off for it.”
“I don’t think I’m very timid on the field,” said DePalma. “I feel like I belong, and I usually forget about my arm and my teammates do too.”
“Her biggest impact is just her positivity,” added Condon. “She’s an ideal teammate. She builds people up, she works hard, she leads by example, and she’s vocal.”
DePalma says she’s occasionally underestimated by opposing players and coaches, but she quickly shows them that is one big mistake. “I’ll score and even the other team, the defender that I beat or something, will come up to me and be like ‘wow, you’re really good.'” said DePalma. “It makes me feel good just because I like proving people wrong when they think I can’t do something.
“It makes me really confident in the future that I can do anything and that I shouldn’t limit myself and use my arm as an excuse,” DePalma added. “I should use it as a method to prove people wrong.”
Condon adds that the fact that she’s left-handed makes her an asset to her offense. “Even when defenders try and force her right, she can put her stick on her right arm and be productive.”
“Everything you can do in lacrosse, you can do with one hand. We talk about that in the early stages of development,” said Condon. “I’ve used her as an example in camps with younger players, saying that there’s nothing Ruby can’t do in this sport.”
Lacrosse runs in the family— one older sister, Sophie, just wrapped up a DII career at Edinboro and the other, Lily, a senior on Spencerport, will play DIII at the University of Chicago. Ruby, currently receiving DIII interest, hopes to play in college as well.
“It’s nice to see she’s just like every other play out there and she is comfortable and confident,” said Lily.
DePalma doesn’t know of anyone playing lacrosse with one arm— she had to learn all of her unique techniques herself, but she hopes that maybe she could be that role model for someone else. “You can do anything you want if you work hard enough and have a positive mindset,” she said. “If people could see this and be inspired, that would mean a lot.”