September 27, 2012 - by
ESPN’s Graham Hays on Carson Pickett

Sept. 27, 2012

BRISTOL, Conn. – Sleep didn’t come easily to Carson Pickett the night before Florida State’s opening game this season, the first of the freshman’s college career. From strangers in the airport who wished her well upon spotting her Seminoles gear to the plush hotel in Minnesota, the sights and sounds of a road trip had only amplified a caffeine-like rush that left her wide awake to ponder what the game would bring, how fast it would feel, how long she had waited for it.

Yet even such sleepless anticipation proved insufficient preparation for the feeling that came when she pulled on her No. 16 jersey the next day.

“The first time you actually get to wear a jersey, it’s honestly breathtaking,” Pickett recalled. “Going to warm-ups in front of all those people — and we had fans there even though it was so far away — and everyone doing the chop and everything, it’s just a great feeling to know you’re a part of something so special.”

What she can be a part of always interests her more than what anyone else assumes she cannot.

Pickett was born without a left arm. When she put on that Florida State jersey for the first time, she did so a little differently from her teammates. She does a lot of things a little differently from her teammates, and from most other people. But if she defined herself by what she does not have that others do, or by what she cannot do that others can, she would not have been on that road trip in the first place. She certainly would not be a significant contributor on the nation’s top-ranked team as a freshman, a midfielder with speed and a cultured left foot who torments opponents with her crosses.

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