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I'm completely capable of anything
September 29, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Nico Calabria plays soccer and wrestles for Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts. He summitted Mount Kilimanjaro at 13 [Vimeo] as a fundraiser to provide wheelchairs to people in Tanzania, he does some parkour, and this week he's in a race to have the "Best of the Best" video on ESPN's SportsCenter for a goal he scored in a recent game. Calabria was born with one leg and uses carbon fiber crutches when he plays; he's a starting forward on the US Amputee National Team.
posted by catlet (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The goal video brings up an issue that's been talked about during this last Olympic games that's interesting to me. Like they keep talking about amputee runners with engineered legs might soon have an advantage over normally abled runners, in that specific situation he actually has an advantage there. I mean, not that maneuvering with crutches on a soccer field isn't a huge disadvantage in other ways, but in that same situation, that maneuver would be relatively easy for, say, me if I had the extra equipment.

See also: Non-disabled people in wheelchair races or murderball.
posted by cmoj at 4:14 PM on September 29, 2012


One of my good friends plays on this team! I went to college with Keith Mann, or just The Mann, as we called him and he always was one of the best athletes I've ever seen. It's great to see USA Amputee sports get more attention and I wish all of these guys and girls the best of luck. Keith was one of the hardest working and nicest people I've ever known! Great stuff!
posted by packfan88c at 5:16 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


in that same situation, that maneuver would be relatively easy for, say, me if I had the extra equipment

uh huh.
posted by inigo2 at 6:05 PM on September 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dude rocks, but did anybody else think "dufflepud!" while watching him parkour?
posted by spacewrench at 6:12 PM on September 29, 2012


Like they keep talking about amputee runners with engineered legs might soon have an advantage over normally abled runners

You can't go too crazy with rules, otherwise you wind up with crazy and repugnant shit like hormone and chromosomal testing for athletes to determine if they're female enough to compete.

All you can really do is put some sensible limits on things (no doping) and acknowledge that there is no fair competition in sport. Some people are more likely to win than others.
posted by entropone at 6:19 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


uh huh.

I'm a reasonably able soccer player in my mid 20's. I wouldn't make the goal every time, but yes, it'd be trivial compared to other soccer maneuvers if I had crutches I had experience on.

You can't go too crazy with rules

I'm not advocating a position, but it'll be pretty interesting when somebody voluntarily has legs amputated so they can have a shot at being the fastest runner in the world.
posted by cmoj at 6:29 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The parkour video is jaw-dropping (much more so than the soccer goal).

The Boston Herald article says that he also wrestles for his high school. Really curious how that works, since I'm pretty sure he couldn't have sticks.
posted by eugenen at 6:35 PM on September 29, 2012


Y'all should make sure to watch the video at the "parkour" link. That dude is beautifully coordinated.
posted by entropone at 6:46 PM on September 29, 2012


How did his crutches give him an advantage climbing a mountain?
posted by Mojojojo at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2012


The other soccer players could have jumped and headed the ball in, so I don't think the crutches gave him an advantage in the goal video. It just looks like it because he's such a great athlete, with natural timing and agility.
posted by emd3737 at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


How did his crutches give him an advantage climbing a mountain?

Did anybody say that they did?
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2012


I'm not advocating a position, but it'll be pretty interesting when somebody voluntarily has legs amputated so they can have a shot at being the fastest runner in the world.

This is not going to happen.
posted by edeezy at 12:26 AM on September 30, 2012


Shouldn't they call the team something besides 'Amputee', if they include people born without limbs?

I'm curious about why they use crutches instead of prosthetics - cost/access issues (my assumption), or is there an advantage to crutches for some people?

Also, why no offside in amputee soccer?

That free kick of his in the parkour video looks completely unreadable for opponents who haven't seen it before - I wonder if he takes all the team penalty shots :)
posted by jacalata at 12:29 AM on September 30, 2012


I am blown away by the fluidity and athleticism here, but my instinctive reaction was 'no fair' in sympathy to the opposing team. When a 2-legged player wants to score that goal they have to do a flying bicycle kick with their foot over their head, because there's no way to get the angle you need with your other leg planted on the ground. Pause it at 5 seconds and you can see at the moment of the kick his body is almost parallel to the ground. Any player would do much better with crutches than without on that kind of manoeuvre. I think with practice crutches would make for stronger free kicks as well -- you can make your body into a longer lever by planting with a crutch out in front of you and pivoting on that, instead of on your off-foot. (These advantages don't begin to approach in magnitude the disadvantages of lacking that off-foot entirely, of course.)
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:08 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Why use crutches?" -- well, in order to use a prosthetic comfortably and efficiently, you need a residual limb that has enough length and function to control the prosthetic. That's why it's so important to save the knee joint, for example.

It looks like he doesn't have much, if any, leg to which he could attach a prosthetic. It would be a pain to drag that leg around, and -- as you can see -- he's awfully fast on those crutches.

I wear glasses because I'm too lazy to go through the whole process of putting in contacts properly, keeping them wet, dealing with them stinging, keeping them clean, buying new pairs -- man, they are spendy! -- etc. I wake up in the morning and put on my glasses. Done. I'd imagine the same is similar for this guy and a lot of other amputees.

Sometimes the high-tech solution that makes you look more "normal" makes way less sense from every other angle.
posted by Madamina at 8:49 AM on September 30, 2012


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