Kansas City teen overcomes the odds on the softball field - KCTV5 News

Kansas City teen overcomes the odds on the softball field

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“People sometimes think I can’t do it, and I like to prove them wrong,” Charlie Sheckells said. “People sometimes think I can’t do it, and I like to prove them wrong,” Charlie Sheckells said.

Valerie Sheckells was heartbroken after her 20-week ultrasound revealed bad news.

Her unborn baby had an undeveloped right arm. The condition is known as amniotic band syndrome.

“We were pretty sad at first, and we cried it out,” she said. “My first thought ... my first words to my husband were, ‘It’s OK, she can still play soccer.'"

But her little girl, Charlie Sheckells, didn’t grow up liking soccer. Her sport was softball, which would seem like an impossible sport to play with only one arm. However, that did not stop her.

“People sometimes think I can’t do it, and I like to prove them wrong,” Charlie said.

She started playing in kindergarten and has continued softball into high school. But, it wasn’t always easy.

“At first, I was kind of embarrassed, because I couldn’t do everything that everyone else can do,” the Staley High School sophomore said. “But then, I realized it was kind of a good thing (having only one arm), because I figured out ways on my own to do it. I’ve become kind of independent.”

Having your mom sign you up for a neighborhood youth softball team is one thing, but making the team at a softball powerhouse, like Staley High School, is a different story.

“It was nerve-wracking, because I wasn’t sure I was going to make it,” Charlie said. “They had won the state championship the year before (2015), so I wondered, ‘Am I good enough to play on this level yet?'"

The then-freshman made the team, playing second base for the Falcons' successful junior varsity program.

“It really made me feel good about myself,” she said. “Despite having only one arm, I was able to make it to the Staley level.”

Charlie clearly fits in well with her classmates, but her mom said it wasn’t always that way.

“She came home on some days sad because some kids were not very nice,” she said. “She eventually learned to be proud of herself and who she was.”

Valerie Sheckells feels like softball has played a big part in Charlie’s acceptance.

“It has kind of helped her make friends,” she said. “It helps her fit in a little more.”

Charlie agrees.

“I don’t know what I would have done without sports,” she said. “It’s been a part of me.”

Charlie is very much at home of the softball field where she does a great job at second base.

Over the years, she developed the ability to field the ball with her left hand -- dropping the glove while tossing the ball into the air, catching the ball with her now-bare left hand and throwing to first base.

It takes a lot longer to describe the move than it takes Charlie to execute it.

Staley junior varsity coach Matt Schweitzer is impressed with Charlie.

“She’s just amazed me with what she has to overcome and what she’s able to do,” he said. “The adjustments she’s made from last year to this year is remarkable.”

Charlie continues to work hard at getting better, adding different elements to her game.

“She’s one of my hardest-working girls,” Schweitzer said.

Her goal is to make the varsity team, which won’t be easy, but Charlie is not one to back off from a challenge.

“I like proving people wrong,” she says.

While the quiet sophomore doesn’t seek out the spotlight, she does have a message for other little boys and girls who might be facing physical challenges.

“Don’t listen to other people who discourage you, because, if you try hard enough you can do really great things," she said.

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