By JOSH STROPE
SHADYSIDE - Shenandoah sophomore Jacob Warner loves sports, a passion he got from his father, Dave.
Shenandoah sophomore Jacob Warner waits for the ball to be inbounded Tuesday night in Shadyside
Photo by Josh Strope
Warner is a pretty small kid, a mere 5-foot-4 and not much more than 100 pounds, making playing sports a challenge on its own.
If his size isn't enough of a roadblock, Warner was born without a left arm from the elbow down.
''It's difficult but I get around it,'' Warner said. ''Never say never. Never give up and you always have to think positive.''
Warner, 16, plays basketball and baseball for the Zeps with the help of a couple types of prosthetic arms. And with the way he plays, unless you knew, you would never guess.
During Tuesday's 55-40 jayvee victory against Shadyside, Warner was diving for loose balls, getting in players' faces on defense, and intercepting passes.
A guard, Warner finished without a point, failing on four shot attempts in 10 minutes, but showed his worth in more than numbers on a scoresheet.
''He is a very hard worker and does not use his disability as an excuse. He acts like he doesn't have one,'' Shenandoah basketball coach Craig Sebring said. ''He is a good kid. We don't show him any favoritism or anything like that. And he doesn't want that. He doesn't want to be treated any different than anybody else.''
Warner was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, but that wasn't what caused his condition. After speaking with a pediatrician, Jacob's mother, Kim, said he felt that the nerve endings didn't allow the arm to grow.
Another theory was that the amniotic bands wrapped around the arm and that didn't allow it to grow. Both parties are still unsure of what truly happened.
At an early age, Warner started playing soccer, the obvious sport where he doesn't have to worry about using his hands.
But as he got older, like most boys, he broadened his horizons and wanted to start playing other sports.
He started playing basketball in 5th grade. He gave up on soccer and was part of the football team in 7th and 8th grade.
''I didn't know if I would be able to (play basketball), but I thought I was pretty good so I kept on doing it,'' Warner said. ''Sometimes, when shooting, it's not as good as I want it to be but I have to deal with it.''
Warner has three prosthetic arms, including a special one for baseball, what he considers his favorite sport, that allows him to hook onto the bat. He switches to another arm when he goes to the outfield.
Another arm, called a myo, has sensors that when he flexes, allows him open and close his hand. When he plays basketball, he uses a plastic arm that won't hurt anyone should they run into it.
Despite having the disability, Warner is just one of the guys.
''My teammates don't treat me any different,'' he said. ''I'm just like everyone else. Sometimes I feel like I have to work harder on some drills but I don't notice it all when I'm out there.''
Added Sebring: ''I have the utmost respect for him, what he does and what he can do. He shows a lot of heart out there. That says a lot about him. I wish a lot of my players had as much heart as he does out there.''