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Lily’s goal: A young athlete inspires by overcoming obstacles

VERONA (WKOW) — By the age of 5, Lily Rosenthal already knew she wanted to be a hockey player.

“You get to skate and you get to do fun activities.”

Watching her older sister play goalie, Lily was roped in to playing in net.

“Her coach came to me and asked if Lily could try goaltending because she was already doing it as a player,” remembers Lily’s mom Laura. “She was standing in front of the nets and blocking pucks.”

Many athletes are able to just skate into the sport of hockey, but Lily had to overcome obstacles that would force many to stop short of that goal.

Lily was born in China with a condition called fibular hemimelia. Laura and Paul Rosenthal adopted Lily from an orphanage when she was about 2-1/2 years old. They researched their medical options and were convinced Lily’s best path was to perform amputations on both legs.

“Everyone we talked to said with prosthetics, she would live a normal, active life,” says Laura.

However, Laura could not have imagined at that moment just how active Lily would be in the coming years. The 12-year old plays volleyball, among other sports. The Sun Prairie resident is currently the goalie on two local teams where she is constantly taking people by surprise.

“I thought, ‘All right. That kid’s got some good moves,'” recalls current coach Jack Van Thomme of his first time watching Lily play. “Then, someone told me, ‘You know. She has two prosthetic legs.’ I thought, ‘That’s insane.'”

Laura receives messages from people explaining how Lily inspires them. However, Lily doesn’t view herself as an inspiration. She considers herself just another hockey player.

“I don’t think about. I never think of me having legs and wearing these (prosthetics) every single day. I have them every single day.”

It’s that “no excuses” attitude that has even inspired Lily’s own mother.

“She was in an orphanage and had special needs and I think she was born with it, that determination. She’s a survivor and she’s awesome.”

Lance Veeser

Sports Director, 27 News

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