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Chris Murphy, Published January 12 2013

DeLaSalle athlete thrives despite birth defect


DeLaSalle’s Ben Albert knows when people first see him, they notice that his left arm ends at his elbow. People see his birth defect, but the people who stick around to learn about him find a varsity soccer, baseball and basketball player who will graduate at the top of his class with National Merit honors.

Most importantly, Albert sees someone that will not be defined by his birth defect.

“Personally, I don’t see very many challenges,” Albert said after playing versus Moorhead in DeLaSalle’s 72-49 win Saturday at Memorial Auditorium. “Other people see challenges for me that I don’t see as challenges for me. I think it’s just me wanting to prove people wrong every day.”

Whether it’s making a play in the outfield by scooping a baseball with his glove on his right hand, sticking his glove under his armpit and dropping the ball into his right hand quick enough to hold a runner or playing defense in basketball, Albert doesn’t consider what he does as anything special.

“All sports have their challenges, but, honestly, I see my challenges as the same challenges other people have,” Albert said.

The people around Albert know what he has.

“For Ben, and for all of us that deal with Ben, it’s not about what Ben doesn’t have,” DeLaSalle basketball coach Dave Thorson said, who is a Fargo South graduate. “He brings all kinds of things to the table from a player standpoint and a leadership standpoint. He helps teams be better. It’s about what Ben does, not what Ben can’t do.”

Reid Travis, the 29th-ranked junior in the country by ESPN for basketball, certainly enjoys having Albert on his DeLaSalle squad that is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.

“Not one time does he make an excuse or say he can’t do something,” Travis said. “He’s good. He’s not on our team just because. He’s one of the hardest workers on our team. He has that it factor and it’s great to have him on the team.”

Instead of seeing a defect, Albert hopes people see inspiration.

“Whether you have one or two arms, being a hard worker is going to get you places,” Albert said. “Even if you have to do it a different way than most people, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548