My name is Danika Williams and I am a double amputee! I play lacrosse, drag race, and also played basketball in middle school.
I have been around sports my whole life. I have always liked basketball and I played in middle school. It was hard on me because of all the running. I have been around drag racing my whole life as my Grandpa races and I was always at the track. I started racing when I was eight and never thought something would top racing until I started playing lacrosse. I fell in love right away and wanted more and more!
I already knew I was going to use my caps to play lacrosse. As an amputee, you can’t run forever and your body is tired. In lacrosse, I never get tired because I don’t have to run. I don’t need to go fast. I’m a goalie.
Most people look down on kids that play sports with a disability. I’ve gotten a lot of coaches tell me that’s not what we look at. And so I was like, okay, but you still feel that way somehow. It’s an adjustment because going into lacrosse, none of my family knew what it was.
I was at our open house and the lacrosse coach chased me down and said, “I’d love for you to be on my team, you would be really good at this”.
And the first time I said, “ I don’t think I can do it.”, just doubting myself.
I tried it out on the first Sunday. I went out and fell in love with it. I was like, I can do this. And then that trainer turned into my best friend. Her name is Kate Mullen. We had to adjust how I do it because I’m shorter. We had to slide my hand down. I come to practice with my prosthetics on, I take them off in front of my teammates, they don’t care. I just slide my caps on and go. But Kate, she’s helped me, she made me the goalie I’ve become. All my skills, every accomplishment, I give most of the credit to her.
I feel like playing a sport gives me more drive to keep going. I want more and more. There’s reality and there’s the dream. The dream is to play in college and one of my top picks is Endicott. Sports management is what I want to do. The reality is I get out of high school, live my life and go through to dental. So, we have a dream.
I hate it when people say practice makes perfect because you can’t be perfect. You’re human. I think practice makes progress and progress makes you better and better and better. That’s why I’ve always got a stick in my hand, got the ball in my hand.
Lacrosse is when you make that big save for your team. Your team depends on you, and then you throw it out to your team and it goes down and a goal happens. And that’s one of the things I like the most about the position; I like to have people rely on me. I’m underestimated as an amputee. They think oh, she’s short. That doesn’t matter. I’ve got a stick and my arms are super long. They figure it out real quick.
I take a lot of pride in this. I like being underestimated. I wouldn’t want to go in there and everybody know everything about me. No, I want them to think like “Oh, I don’t know if she can do this”. But I’m glad they don’t know that and then I can prove them wrong.
Lacrosse has taught me about discipline, dedication, commitment, time management and so much more. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to overcome obstacles and you can do anything you put your mind to!
My best advice is to not give up and it will get easier. Don’t let people’s negative opinions get you down—if it’s something you love, just keep at it and accomplish your goals! Just because you’re different than others doesn’t mean you can’t do the same things they have accomplished. It might be a little different and you might have to adjust some things but you can still achieve the same goals as others, maybe even better.
Shoutout to Hollyn Gambill and her initiative, AmpuTeens for originally posting Danika’s story!