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LeMaster of field and mat: No slowdown for Eagles’ one-legged wonder

Freedom High School freshman Trevor LeMaster refuses to allow a prosthetic leg slow him down. LeMaster is the starting goalie for the Eagles’ junior varsity lacrosse team this spring after a enjoying a stellar initial high school wrestling season in the winter.—Times-Mirror Photo/Rick Wasser
Trevor LeMaster

-Age: 15
-School: Freedom H.S.
-GPA: 4.05
-Sports: Wrestling; Lacrosse
-Natural legs: 1
-Artificial legs: 1
-Age at amputation: 10
-Career interest: Prosthetic medicine

He walks with a gait indistinguishable from the standard, though his run incorporates a slight skip – left-left-right, left-left-right. In the lacrosse net, his lateral movement is adept, his hands quick as he tracks the opponents' play, directing his teammates in traffic. When the ball is shot beyond his net, he turns and musters a sprint to save possession for his team.

If not for the thin metallic rod connecting his right pant leg to his shoe, one might not realize that this athlete – who on April 10 backstopped his team to a 5-4 win with a near-flawless second half – was running on just one real leg.

"I like being relied upon to stop shots and give my team a chance to win," said freshman Trevor LeMaster, starting goalie on Freedom High School's junior varsity lacrosse squad by spring, up-and-coming 106-pound wrestler for the Eagles by winter.

"When that final buzzer sounds and everyone comes storming at you because we won, it's the best feeling in the world."

Fifteen years ago, to Tim and Sondra LeMaster, Trevor was born in a Northern Virginia hospital with a right leg missing multiple major bones, causing it to be much shorter than the other -- so much so that his right foot was about level with his left knee.

The growing youngster didn't pay much mind to the disability. From the earliest age, he played lacrosse, baseball and soccer in the Dulles South Youth Sports organization and has always had a fondness for swimming (with one leg) and kayaking (with two).

"I like to play every sport that I can," LeMaster said. "Doesn't really matter what it is, I want to win."

He's always had a competitive nature, one desirous of surmounting challenges. In baseball, despite the handicap, he preferred playing shortstop, the most athletically demanding position. On one soccer team for disabled players, he was removed for overaggressive play.

Once LeMaster took up wrestling at age 12 – inspired by watching collegiate national champion Anthony Robles reach the pinnacle of success with the same condition – he took to the mat with the same zeal.

"Trevor is a kid that has an incredibly positive personality, is very competitive and has a desire to not only compete but to win," stated Kent Nagy, Freedom's head wrestling coach, who has seen LeMaster's development on the mat since he first set foot upon it.

The freshman – without prosthetic aid – placed second in the Loudoun's junior varsity championships last season. But the crowning achievement of his first high school wrestling campaign occurred at the varsity level in the Freedom Duals, when LeMaster took on and defeated an older wrestler from Orange County who went on to be a conference runner-up.

"He will take part in every run, every bear crawl, every handstand, and every push-up. He figures out a way to make it work, and he never makes excuses," Nagy said.

LeMaster has impressed coaches in both of his chosen high school sports.

"That's a kid I would go to war with," declared assistant lacrosse coach Anthony Zambito.

Addition by subtraction

"The thought never crossed my mind to get it removed, but my parents sat me down and told me that I was going to have to do something," LeMaster said. "If I was going to keep that leg, there was going to be a lot of struggle just to move around and have access to places."

At the age of 10, amid consultation with parents and doctors, LeMaster made the adult and permanent decision to have his underdeveloped right leg surgically removed.

It was replaced with an advanced prothesis, 8 pounds in weight, 2 inches in circumference, that bends and flexes with his movement, and can be extended with his growth. Getting used to it took several months of physical therapy, but after five years as a bionic kid, it's just another part of him – though one he can take off at will.

"I take it off to shower and take it off at night, but in the morning I put it on, get ready for school and go," he said.

In class, LeMaster has a keen interest in science, particularly as such study could aid himself and others in similar circumstances.

"I want to pursue prosthetic design and development, to help make it easier and not as painful to use," he said, noting that sometimes he feels soreness where the device connects near his hip.

Occasionally, while guarding the lacrosse net, LeMaster will use his artificial leg to make a save – emitting a loud, painless clang as the hard rubber ball ricochets off the metal appendage, keeping the opponents' score at bay while avoiding the bruising that flesh would be heir to.

"When it hits my right leg, it goes really far and doesn't hurt," he said with a laugh. The high schooler displays a remarkable sense of humor about his unusual medical situation.

A promising freshman with realistic goals of varsity success in two sports, LeMaster dons the Eagles' black and gold with a uniform top declaring "Freedom" – because that's exactly what his technological marvel of a right leg gives him.

"This brings me a step closer to mobility and ability, which is where I want to be."


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