Gonzalez overcomes handicap

January 11, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

Alicia Gonzalez doesn't let a little physical handicap get her down.

In fact, the Central Union High athlete doesn't really think about the fact she was born with only half a left arm.

"It doesn't really bother me," Gonzalez said. "It might have bothered me if I had lost my arm in an accident a couple of years ago."

She doesn't know anything different than having one arm that extends to just below the elbow.

Gonzalez has learned to adjust to an athletic life with her handicap. And she's received a lot of accolades along the way.


"I've had parents come up to me after a basketball game and tell me, ‘You did really well,'" she said, currently playing on the varsity basketball team at Central. "They tell me they find it interesting that I play as well as I do."

Others remember when she played sports at Meadows Union Elementary School east of El Centro and when they see her they ask if she still plays sports.

"They told me I was really good and wondered if I was still playing," she said.

There are a few people who don't know her and are timid about talking to her about her physical handicap.

"They don't want to be rude," Gonzalez said, or they don't want to say the wrong thing so they don't say anything.

That doesn't bother her either; Gonzalez doesn't mind talking about it or her athletic exploits.

The daughter of Raul and Gloria Gonzalez, the Spartan junior was quite the athlete before she arrived at Central. The Meadows track and field coach talked her into going out for the team. She was a sprinter, competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the 4x100 relay and the 100-meter hurdles.

She got hooked on basketball through a friend of her older brother Gilbert and first played an after-school team. Gonzalez also has competed in volleyball and tennis.

"I just wanted to play them to see if I liked them," she said.

She found out she liked the sports, although when she reached high school she cut back on her athletic achievements to devote more time to other school activities, including the flag team.

A knee injury also hampered her high school athletic career. She was going for a backswing in tennis when she tore ligaments and pierced the bone in her left knee.

She was told to stay off the knee after the surgery but her competitive nature got the best of her.

"I wasn't supposed to but I still ran track. It slowed me down quite a bit," she said.

Running track offers no problem for Gonzales because she didn't have to use her arms. Mastering other sports was a different story.

Volleyball was hard, especially when it came to serving.

"I had to throw the ball up in the air with the same hand I hit the ball," she said with a smile on her face.

Tennis also was a challenge.

"I had to hold the ball on my racket and toss it into the air to hit it," Gonzalez said.

Basketball also proved a slight challenge. It's hard setting up for a shot and trying to use both arms to guide the ball.

"I've never really been a shooter, though," she said, adding she found it hard at first to try to control the ball with just one hand.

Even harder, though, were the drills.

"When they told me to dribble with my left hand, I didn't know what to do," she said with a laugh.

Still, learning to play the sports wasn't all that difficult for her.

"Since I was born with it, I'm used to it," she said.

While she enjoys sports, Gonzalez has other interests.

She loves to draw, and especially likes to work with acrylics.

Gonzalez also collects coins.

"I have a lot of silver pennies, quarters, half dollars, two dollar bills and dollar coins," she said.

Gonzalez plans to attend college after high school and major in interior design.

She says nothing will hold her back.

"If you stop and think about it, I'm really just like everyone else," Gonzalez said. "I just try to do my best with what I have."

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles