Something special about Victoria; Covington freshman doesn’t let challenges slow her down

By Rob Kiser

Piqua Daily Call

There are a lot of positives going on with the Covington girls basketball program.

The Lady Buccs are coming off a D-IV regional semifinal appearance and took a 16-3 record into Thursday night’s game with National Trail.

But, the most special thing going on in the program occurs before the varsity game ever tips off.

Although JV freshman guard Victoria Grabeman would tell you there is nothing special about her —- that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I don’t see myself as an inspiration,” Grabeman said, downplaying what she has accomplished after being born with one arm and one leg. She plays with prosthetic right leg and only has part of her right arm.

But, those around her will tell you just how special she is —- she has overcome the challenges thrown at her so well, they see her as the same as every other player.

“She is an inspiration to me,” Covington girls basketball coach Jim Meyer said. “When I saw her in the hallway during the school day, I didn’t realize she had the disability. She is amazing.”

It never occurred to Grabeman she wouldn’t be able to play sports.

“I have always loved playing,” she said. “Running the hurdles in track in junior high last year was difficult. Some things are more difficult than others.”

Meyer said you don’t even think about her disability during practice and games.

“She has done such a great job overcoming her challenges,” he said. “You don’t notice it. When we do shooting drills in practice, I chuck the pass at her just as hard as I do everyone else and she catches it.”

JV girls basketball coach Adam Sweigart has the same expectations of her as he has of every other player.

“I don’t think she would want me to do it any differently,” he said. “I know she was worried (playing at the same level as everyone else) at the beginning of the season. But, she gained confidence with repetitions. I have the same confidence in her as I have in every other player. And she can do everything they can do.”

You can see the joy on Grabeman’s face during games.

“I just love all the other girls and being on a team,” she said.

Sweigart said there are a lot of people that don’t notice anything different about her.

“A lot of players don’t notice,” Sweigart said. “The Arcanum coach said something to me (about what a great inspiration she is).”

And if there is a scrum for the ball on the floor, you can expect Grabeman to be right in the middle of it.

“She is not afraid to mix it up,” Sweigart said. “She does everything you ask her to do. As a coach, what more could you want?”

Grabeman took on a new challenge this fall when she decided to play volleyball for the first time.

“One of my friends told me I should play, so I did,” Grabeman said. “That was difficult, because there was so much I had to learn at first.”

Covington JV volleyball coach Stephanie Robinson was amazed by what she was able to accomplish.

“I didn’t know until the summer that she was going to play, because she didn’t play in junior high,” Robinson said. “At first, I wasn’t as critical of her because I wasn’t sure what her expectations were. By the middle to the end of the season, I was treating her just like everyone else. She definitely surprised me with everything she was able to do.”

Grabeman’s prosthetic leg broke three times during the volleyball season, but she wouldn’t be denied.

“For sure, she is a great inspiration,” Robinson said. “She has to be. She has a bubbly personality. She is just a great kid to be around. She is actually a really good hitter and has a really good serve.

”And she can really jump. She was inspiration to players on other teams too. Most of them didn’t even realize (she was missing an arm and a leg).”

All the coaches would agree —- they are blessed to have had the opportunity to coach her.

“She just comes in with a positive attitude,” Meyer said. “She is a great teammate. She is a great representative of our team and our school district.”

Which it truly what makes Grabeman so special.

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Mike Ullery|Call Photo Covington freshman Victoria Grabeman calls for the ball during a JV basketball game. Ullery|Call Photo Covington freshman Victoria Grabeman calls for the ball during a JV basketball game.