Reporting John Lauritsen
WASECA, Minn. (WCCO) — Waseca junior Lexi Shifflett made the varsity volleyball team this year and has become one of the team’s best setters.
It’s an accomplishment that some may not have thought possible when Shifflett was born with a rare disability.
At first glance, you may not even notice that the Waseca setter wears a prosthetic leg.
She was born with a condition in which her right leg was much shorter than her left.
“I don’t notice it anymore,” Shifflett said. “A lot of my friends don’t notice it either. If I’m wearing pants, none of my friends can tell.”
Said coach Kelli Fagerness: “Her first day as a freshman was my first day as a coach. When I saw Lexi I thought, ‘Oh my, what is she going to be able to do? How do I approach her about this?’ I really didn’t know.”
Fagerness really didn’t have to approach Shifflett, as she has fit right in from day one.
The hardest worker on the team, Shifflett was rewarded this year by making varsity as junior.
“It was really scary at first,” Shifflett said. “I was really scared for my first game, just looking in the stands and seeing all those fans out there.”
But she’s a natural athlete. It started when she was little. Her parents had her try a bunch of different sports, such as dance, gymnastics, and softball.
“I started softball before volleyball, but I like volleyball more,” she said.
And that’s a good thing for her teammates.
“She proves that you can do anything you want and there are no limitations,” said teammate Indira Raub. “She just blows everyone out of the water.”
Shifflett’s coach said she’s improved so much that she may even be able to play at the next level.
But her goal for now is to play in the Paralympics in four years in Rio de Janeiro. Until then, the Waseca girls are making each other better, and there’s no doubt where Shifflett stands on this team.
“We are just one big family. We love each other to death,” she said.
Shifflett said she hopes to inspire other kids with disabilities who are looking to overcome the odds.
The junior also plays softball for Waseca in the spring, and has also been traveling to Oklahoma to practice with the national Paralympic volleyball team.