DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Junior Susquehanna Township girls basketball player, Stephanie Shipi is quite the inspiration she doesn’t let her unique challenge stop her from doing what she loves.
“She is who she is and she owns it. She’s proud of it. She’s proud to be deaf and she doesn’t make any excuses for any of it," said Laurey Walker, Stephanie's interpreter.
She might not be able to hear the whistle or the cheers but it doesn’t stop Stephanie from playing basketball.
She was in 7th grade when she first stepped on the court to take on a new challenge, not knowing much about the game, just that her dad was into basketball. So, she did some research on the NBA and WNBA before joining.
“I didn’t have this overnight, all of a sudden, I have these skills kind of thing. It’s been a very slow process and from the beginning and I was nervous,' said Shipi. 'My coaches are always trying to encourage me and tell me to think positively. Which is great. That helps me keep going. When I get positive affirmation from them - when they recognize that my skills are improving. I’m like oh, great. Thank you. So, it makes me what to keep going.”
Her positivity is everything, Stephanie splits her time playing for junior varsity and varsity, and when she's not, she’s the Tribes biggest fan.
A year before joining the team, Stephanie teamed up with her interpreter Laurey Walker and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“She’s one of those people who has a spark about her so you really can’t help but like her or enjoy being around her. She’s always smiling, laughing and upbeat," said Walker.
Whether flagging her down on the sidelines or being there to make sure she understands the play, Stephanie is there to learn but it’s been more of a challenge this year.
“Before COVID or masks. Life was a bit easier to get through. I can’t read everything everyone says on their mouth but it does defiantly help me pick up some things that they’re saying. With masks, it’s tough. If I have an interpreter there, but if I don’t i know your mouth is moving but I’m deaf and we’re trying to mind things out. It’s been tough," said Shipi.
It’s her determination and willingness learn and come back day after day.
“The perseverance aspect of it has been an inspiration because she is always up for a challenge and she always rises to that challenge. She could have given up a long time ago but she didn’t," said Tamaura Woodson, Junior Varsity coach.
Stephanie continues to work towards her senior season.