Mark Carney grew up playing with his cousin and friends. He played in recreational leagues at the YMCA. He watches and roots for Kevin Durant in the professional league. He simply loves the game.
So, when it came time for tryouts for Landstown Middle School’s basketball team, Carney was not going to allow the fact that he suffers from brachial plexus palsy – a condition, which, along with other ailments, has left him without use of his right arm – stop him from trying to earn his spot on the Lancer squad.
“I played with a lot of guys growing up,” Carney said. “It kind of gave me the confidence to go try out.”
Try out, and succeed.
Carney made the team (a team, by the way, that won the city championship the year before) and has become an integral part of the Landstown roster.
“Mark is an inspiration to everyone on the team,” said Head Coach Bob Flegal. “He is one of the hardest working players on the court and never gets discouraged. “
Flegal added Carney continually amazes his teammates with his ability to play the game with just one hand – including shooting outside jump shots, dribbling and going in for layups.
In return, Carney says it is his teammates who keep challenging him to dig deeper and work harder.
“They push me and I push myself just to make sure I’m on my game,” Carney said, adding he has found an energy from just being on the team that makes him want to work harder.
But Carney’s hard work doesn’t end there.
He also is enrolled in the school’s Gifted and Talented program, and says to be successful in school you have to push yourself in the classroom just as you do on the court.
“I’ve got to balance it out,” Carney said. “Homework, grades – that comes first; sports come after. It’s all about practice and dedication.”
Carney is quick to point out while he may have a different path than others, his success is not unique. Anyone who wants to put in the work can experience similar results.
“Keep striving for good school grades, or striving for whatever you want to do,” he said. “Go for it.”
*You can also read more about Mark in this recent Virginian Pilot article, which features students with disabilities from around the region who participate in sports programs.
Compass Keepers Q&A:
What’s your favorite book?
What’s your favorite subject?
Science and English
Who is your favorite teacher? Why?
Ms. Kramer – She often pushes me and that makes me keep going throughout the day.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Who/what inspires you?
A lot of my teammates and definitely my cousin, Jalen Turner
What is your recommended study tip?
How do you like to relax after a long school day?
*Do you know someone that should be featured as a Compass Keeper? Send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.