When Carly Sorensen skates across the ice in hockey practice, you forget about her disability. Using a specially designed sled with hand controls, she turns circles, skims the distance of the rink, hits the puck, works with her teammates, and cheers when someone scores. Her approach to hockey resembles her approach to life: follow your interests, adapt to address obstacles, take advantage of help, and make good friends along the way.
Carly who turns 16 in May chose hockey because “it’s a sport I can play.” Her father Chris took up hockey when he was 33 and now coaches her and other young adults from across Iowa. To watch a practice session at Buccaneers Hockey Club in Des Moines, as I did on a cold, sunny April day, is to appreciate how much patience and endurance it takes to come close to the professionals practicing nearby.
Once you become acquainted with Carly the athlete, you learn about Carly who loves biology and Carly who plans to study art in college. Her medium? Acrylic. Her likely plans? Attend Iowa Western Community College. But that’s two years away and she’s still pondering her future.
Carly and her family, her dad Chris, her mother Megan, and her sister Ally, passionately support the Spina Bifida Association of Iowa. They attend educational events and help to raise money at the annual Walk N Roll.
Carly has her own campaign, to educate people about spina bifida. “Initially people are a little hesitant to get to know me because they don’t know about spina bifida. I am always telling people what it is.”
She’s a typical teenager. A recent highlight was going to Krispy Kreme doughnuts with her friends. She also enjoys watching television–“whatever looks interesting”– and playing with her Black Lab Sherwood.
Minimizing any challenges she has had along the way, Carly has a quick response in contemplating her future. “How can I adapt so I can do that?”