Standing Tall

Wisconsin Goalie Determined To Not Let Anything Get In The Way Of Her Dreams
By: 
Greg Bates

As a young kid, Lily Rosenthal spent plenty of time at the ice rink.

Watching her older sister, Lucille, play hockey, Lily was drawn to the game and quickly picked up skating when she turned 5.

It was love at first ice. Nothing was going to slow her down, not even having two prosthetic legs. 

Now the 12-year-old from Sun Prairie, Wis., is making a name for herself between the pipes as a goalie. It's not because of her physical appearance, but because of her prowess for stopping the puck. 

"She just seemed to have a natural knack for it," said Lily's mom, Laura. "You couldn't discourage her from doing it."

Larry Clemens, who is the director of High-Performance Goaltending in south-central Wisconsin, has been working with Lily for three years. He has enjoyed watching her constantly progress as a goaltender.

"She's kind of had to outthink the other goalies in her age group, so it's more of a mental growth than a physical growth," Clemens said. "Physically, she's gotten better. She's been able to do more things that we're asking her to-part of it is strength, part of it is just growing. But I think the mental side of it, she's far above the other 12-year-olds that she's competing with because she has to learn to understand the game."

Clemens and other coaches who have worked with Lily over the years know they can push her to the limit on the ice. They aren't going to treat her any differently because of her condition. 

"Honestly, with her mentality, I don't think she'd want it that way," Clemens said. "She wants to just be treated and seen as a goalie, and that's how we want to treat her and see her as well."

Lily agreed with that sentiment. 

"I had a new coach once tell me that he was going to take it easy on me during practice-it was the worst practice ever," she said. "I get really bored if I'm not challenged."

Lily has had to overcome plenty of challenges during her young life.

She was born with fibula hemimelia, a condition where she doesn't have fibulas on both her legs. Living in northern China, Lily was adopted by Paul and Laura Rosenthal when she was 2 ½ and moved to Albuquerque, N.M. 

Not being able to walk very well because of club feet and missing toes, doctors tried special casting for one year. That didn't solve the problem. So, the Rosenthals talked about options with a number of specialists.

"We could do a lot of surgeries and try to save her feet, but there were no guarantees of what would happen," Laura recalled. 

"And with all of the technology in prosthetics, she'd probably live a normal, active life."

Hoping for just that, Lily underwent surgery. And she hasn't stopped moving since.

"I never thought of my legs as keeping me from doing anything," Lily said. "My parents always told me to try."

Lily, who moved to Wisconsin with her family when she was 4, is currently playing for a pair of teams: DC Diamonds U12 and the AAA Wisconsin Wildcats U12 squad. 

Lily loves the team aspect of hockey and receives a lot of support from her teammates.

"They always pick me up if I'm having a bad game and they don't blame me if we lose," Lily said. "They don't treat me any differently and they include me in fun stuff, too."

Lily is quick to offer some advice to kids who have similar medical conditions and might not have the desire to try athletics.

"Just go for it," she said. "Believe in yourself that you can do it. If you want special treatment instead of having a great time, then that's your fault. Think that you can do anything that you put your mind to. It may not be how other people do it, but at least you're doing it." 

 


Greg Bates is a freelance writer based out of Green Bay, Wis.

 

Issue: 
2019-09

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