pennsylvania teen with cp scores hat trick during final game

From football and baseball to tennis and soccer, ask virtually any athlete which sport is the toughest and they will invariably claim that it’s theirs. There is one sport, however, that virtually everyone can agree is exceptionally difficult due to the level of physical conditioning, skill and perhaps even nastiness required to succeed: ice hockey.

While most people would assume that only the swiftest and the strongest can make a difference in the typical hockey game, this is not always the case. If you don’t believe it, consider the recent experience of a Pennsylvania teen who, despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, has spent much of his life playing the sport he loves and recently netted an achievement that most players — even professionals — can only dream of reaching.

Last week, the 18-year-old skater, whom we’ll call Connor, scored a hat trick — three goals — in a senior night game held against a nonleague opponent. This was quite an accomplishment given that Connor had originally taken to the ice with the hopes of playing the entire game and scoring a single goal.

Connor’s first goal came in the first period, while his next two goals came on deflected pucks in the third period. His teammates later attributed the second and third goals to Connor’s cunning and deft touch.

“He knows where to be,” said the team captain and one of Connor’s best friends. “He doesn’t have as many physical gifts as other players, but he’s sharp.”

The senior night game was organized by Connor’s teammates, who wanted to make sure he had a proper sendoff after having to miss much of the hockey season due to off-season surgery. Connor — who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after being born eight weeks early and whose left leg is limp — underwent a hip reconstruction surgery this past summer to help release his Achilles tendon and adjust his left foot so as to give him some relief from chronic pressure ulcers.

While many people might just decide to call it quits after this type of major surgery — the fifth in Connor’s lifetime — he instead decided to earn his Level I coaching certification and help his teammates out from behind the bench until he could return to the ice.

As illustrated above, when Connor did finally return, he did so in grand fashion, thrilling his teammates, the crowd and, of course, his parents.

“He’s taught me more about dedication, perseverance and a never-say-never attitude than I could ever teach him,” said his father. “As a parent, it was amazing to watch the other parents, his teammates and the student section get all excited when he scored. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Background on cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a serious condition that can cause a host of medical problems in children ranging from vision, hearing and speech problems to muscle spasms, muscle stiffness and mobility issues.

While medical experts have yet to identify all of the causes of cerebral palsy, they have found that oxygen deprivation either during delivery or shortly after birth is one of the more frequent causes.

Please contact a legal professional to learn more if you feel that the onset of cerebral palsy was due to the failure of an OB/GYN to monitor the health of your baby during the delivery or a pediatrician’s failure to diagnose a health issue during your child’s early development.

Source: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Bethel Park senior overcomes cerebral palsy to net hat trick,” Jason Mackey, Jan. 29, 2014

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