Amazing feet: Ibarra is an inspiration on the field and off

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Mar. 8, 2007 - Soccer players can do amazing things on the field with their feet, but it all pales in comparison to what Nancy Ibarra can do off the field with her feet.

Ibarra, a senior on the Lady Cat soccer team, uses her feet to write, put on her shirt and even brush her brown hair. She does all of those things out of necessity.

Nancy was born with a condition that affected her arms and hands so that they extend just barely past the bottom of a short sleeve shirt. She uses her hands to do a lot of things, but has to use her feet for some basic tasks.

"Sometimes when I get tired writing with my hands, I write with my feet. I brush my hair with my feet," she said. "I can do a lot of things with my feet, but sometimes I get embarrassed by people looking at me."

She is right at home around her SSHS teammates, who exalt with her when she gets in a game. Ibarra has taken four shots on goal this year and is looking for her first goal of the season.

On the soccer field, she most likes to make a run with the ball and try to score, but that's not all she enjoys.

"You make new friends and hang out with your friends," she said. "You learn to play as a team."

Nancy is a consummate teammate, said SSHS head coach Martin Bryant

"She doesn't ask for anything special from anybody," he explained. "She doesn't expect me to treat her any differently from anybody else - she just goes out and plays soccer because she loves it.

"Everybody likes Nancy. She's one of those people who is special. She's always at practice and loves to play."

She loves soccer so much that she wants to be a coach after she graduates from high school. The youngest of six siblings, she will be the first in her family to go to college.

Reading is her favorite subject in school, and she is learning how to cook and sew.

"Nancy's an inspiration to everybody," Bryant said. "She doesn't let anything hold her back. If she wanted to use her disability as an excuse, she could very easily do that, and there are probably a lot of people who would do that.

"She's got a great attitude. Everybody's friends with Nancy. She's always happy, cheerful, smiling about something. She lifts everybody up."

While Ibarra has learned to handle all the things that come at her, it's not easy.

"Everything we would do normally, she can do it, she just does it in a different way," said Coach Bryant. "I don't see her having a problem with anything."

Nancy was placed in school at 3-years-old because her parents weren't sure she would be able to write with her hands. So, she learned with her feet.

"Some things are not easy sometimes," she said. "But, I learn."

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