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My name is Willow Herman. I’m 17 years old and live in West Virginia. I was born with a brittle bone disease called Osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes it easier for me to dislocate and break bones than the average person.

Growing up I felt like I was always in a cast, which made it hard to play hockey, but I loved it so much I continued anyway. As I got older I was more careful and was broken less, so I got more play time.

Along with the bone disease, I tend to be the only girl on the team and my coaches tend to overlook me because I am a girl. Instead of letting this put me down, I use it as fuel to try harder and be better so that they have to acknowledge my game and skill.

To me, hockey means freedom; I can go out on the rink and clear my mind and just be with my teammates and enjoy the ice time.

My advice for others struggling with the same thing would be to keep pushing forward, play through the pain and have fun—it makes you a stronger person and if you’re able to keep going, you never actually lose.


Here’s a video that Bauer did on Willow and her incredible story:

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