Waterford’s Marissa Walker, who has fought through cancer and its potentially debilitating affects on her leg to become a pitcher and captain on the Lancers’ softball team, has been chosen as the National Federation of State High School Association’s “National High School Spirit of Sport Award,” the organization announced Monday.
When she was 9-years old, Walker was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma and needed numerous treatments and surgeries to remove a tumor on her left knee which ultimately forced the removal of 70 percent of her femur bone.
She was fitted with a prosthetic joint, which needed constant adjustments and replacements as she grew. She now as a permanent titanium rod, which still necessitates surgery.
Nevertheless, she continued to play softball and pitched Waterford North Little League to a district title not two years after her diagnosis. She continued in high school and, this year, was named captain of the Waterford softball team. She is expected to compete for the Lancers this spring.
Walker is a high honors student at Waterford and a member of the National Honor Society.
“Marissa did not want pity early on and still doesn’t,” said her uncle and Waterford softball coach Andrew Walker in a statement released by NFHS. “I’ve witnessed her struggle up close … the tears, the heartache, the disappointment and the frustration.
“Her inner strength and resilient spirit is what makes her so special … her love of competition … her love for her teammates … and her love of the game. Cancer may have taken away her ability to run like the wind as she did in third grade, but it couldn’t touch her soul, her spirit or her heart. Marissa Walker is a winner even if she never steps on the field of play again because her ‘spirit of sport’ can never be taken away; it is a permanent part of her.”
Read more at NFHS.org: Connecticut Student-athlete Chosen as 2018 Spirit of Sport Award