Disabled teen team manager scores goal in only prep lacrosse action of high school career

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It’s become fairly commonplace for a team to bring its managers on to the field on Senior Day, yet things were a bit different for Roslyn Heights (N.Y.) Roslyn High’s girls lacrosse team and longtime team manager Katherine Zisis, a disabled lacrosse manager who not only played in her team’s final home game, she started in it and even scored a goal.

Katherine Zisis celebrates her introduction before Senior Night at Roslyn High — Facebook.com:Newsday
Katherine Zisis celebrates her introduction before Senior Night at Roslyn High — Facebook.com:Newsday

As first reported by Newsday, and later covered by USA Today, among other sources, Zisis finally got a chance to compete in her first game on her squad’s senior night. Yet Zisis couldn’t just suit up for a game and play, because she suffers from a rare condition known as pulmonary stenosis, which limits the amount of blood that flows to her heart.

The decreased blood flow alone forced Zisis to undergo multiple operations, all of which required significant post-procedural physical and operational therapy.

Put those factors together, and Zisis is just about the least likely student to be safe competing on the lacrosse field. But in 2013, Zisis is also the only senior member of the Roslyn lacrosse team, so after some soul searching and gentle prodding, it was determined that Zisis would enter the game and play just a couple of minutes.

The senior, whose condition categorizes her as a learning disabled student, worked out for more than two weeks with the varsity team in practices, getting herself ready for Senior Night. Then, when the night came, Zisis didn’t just play, she was in the starting lineup.

That’s when the magic really unfolded. With just a couple minutes on the field to make an impact, Zisis didn’t waste any time. She registered a shot on goal with her first ever touch of the ball, scooping up a loose ball just more than 8 meters from goal and sending an effort at cage that instead sailed wide.

Her second attempt would be more accurate. Again scooping up a loose ball after a dropped pass within 10 meters of the cage, Zisis swiveled and scored, sending the Roslyn sideline into hysterics and Zisis into dreamland, where she remained until being carried off the field following the 13-8 Roslyn victory over Wheatland (N.Y.) High.

"We knew of her medical condition, but she was cleared to play in a short stint, for a couple of minutes," Roslyn coach Michelle Crennan told USA Today. "She prepared for this in practice and tried to built up her cardio endurance the last couple of weeks. I made sure she knew to communicate if she was having any problems.

"The focus wasn't on the game itself, but about making a tremendous experience and a memory."

Mission achieved, Roslyn, with a goal to boot.

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