By now you've probably read about and seen highlights of Georgia basketball prospect Zach Hodskins, who has inspired by starring and earning a walk-on offer with the University of Florida despite having just one hand. That's impressive, but Hodskins is hardly alone among prep athletes who compete at the varsity level while missing a limb.
Meet Geno Policicchio, a varsity defensive back for Dearborn (Mi.) Divine Child High. The junior had never played football before the current season for a pretty good reason: He has only one arm. As reported by the Detroit News, Policicchio was born with a defect where his right arm ended at the elbow. He has lived his entire life with only a left arm and left hand, and has never considered it a disability.
Despite the obvious limitations that playing with one arm would have on Policicchio's athletic future, the teen hasn't been slowed by it at all. In fact, he has long played basketball, baseball and soccer, focusing on basketball in the past. As a sophomore, Policicchio was the captain of Divine Child's junior varsity team.
It was while watching Policicchio play basketball that Divine Child football coach Steve Robb was inspired to convince the teen to give football a try. The then-sophomore was so impressive handling the ball with his left hand and coordinated in using the right arm that he has that Robb became convinced that the teen could be a contributor on the football field.
In fact he was more than convinced. It was more like he was possessed with the idea.
"He was like you could be a [defensive back] with all those skills with the same exact thing except you’re catching the football,” said Policicchio, a 5-foot-10, 150-pound junior "He just asked me every day and I was like, 'I'll play.'"
The concern with football, quite naturally, focused on how Policicchio would tackle an opponent after they caught a pass. The junior wasted little time dispelling any of those concerns, registering a handful of tackles in the team's first scrimmage by dropping low and using an "old-fashioned robot style tackle."
Now, heading into the varsity season, Policicchio has emerged as an inspirational catalyst for his teammates and his coach.
"Really, he's an inspiration to me, and if he's an inspiration to me, I know he is to his teammates, too," Robb told the News.