Editor’s Note: Recently while attending Rhino Lacrosse: West Linn, we were able to cover a very uplifting story about a rising lacrosse player who has developed himself into an All Star both on and off the field, despite being born with a very challenging obstacle to overcome. We feel very privileged and honored to have the opportunity to shine a little light on a very inspiring young man. World, meet Miles Moscato.
Playing the Hand You’re Dealt – By Kirk A. Ventiquattro
A few years ago, as he entered his family’s garage in Howard County near Baltimore, Maryland, Miles Moscato had tears running down his face. He was greeted by his mother, Tammy, who questioned why her young son was crying. “What’s wrong sweetie?” she asked.
Miles had discovered that he couldn’t climb a tree that he and his friends had come across, because Miles Moscato was born with no lower left arm due to a medical condition in his mother’s womb known as amniotic band syndrome. His twin brother’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his own neck, but also Miles’ lower left arm. Miles’ twin brother didn’t survive and as 12 year old, Miles, the lacrosse player, shared with me he was not supposed to “make it either.”
Now let’s return to that day in the garage. Miles’ mom stopped Miles, and his tears immediately, telling her son, “Sweetie, you just haven’t found the right tree yet, you dry up those tears and go out there and find that tree, and don’t come back here until you have climbed it.”
Mrs. Moscato is now living in the Portland, Oregon area with Miles, his younger brother, and their dad, Timothy. Earlier this week at Mary S. Young State Park, the site of the 8th Annual Rhino Lacrosse Camp, she and I had a chance to talk about Miles. “My husband and I have never allowed Miles to use his disability as an excuse.”
She explained that they encouraged him to pursue his passions and never look for excuses for anything. They have instilled in him the confidence to overcome anything. They have taught him that he doesn’t have a disability, but instead has the ability to overcome any obstacle.
When I interviewed Miles for this story, his answers surprised me. The first question I asked Miles was “why lacrosse?” His answer was simple. He described lacrosse as the “tree” he could climb. Living in Maryland, one of the nation’s biggest lacrosse “hot beds”, he discovered fitting in with his friends meant playing lacrosse. His best friend in the Baltimore area, Brady McLamb, had a brother and sister already playing lacrosse at high school level, so buddies, Miles and Brady, wanted to follow in the older McLamb’s footsteps.
“What better way to fit in Baltimore, Maryland,” Miles stated, “than to be a Lacrosse player.” As Miles expanded on his answer, he spoke of his love for the fast action, varying skills required, and the compelling complexity of the sport.” Never once did he answer a question from the stand point of a player with a disability. He spoke only from the standpoint of another young athlete who totally loved the “fastest game on two feet”!
To further understand Miles’ attitude and mindset, perhaps the answer to my question about lacrosse might tell you more how amazing this young “star” is! The question was, “What is the toughest skill in the game for you?” I was expecting something about mastering the many skills that require the average player to use two hands – maybe a ground ball or even the split dodge. The answer I received was jaw dropping! Miles’ response was, “Attacking from behind is definitely the toughest skill, making the decision when to deliver the pass to a cutting teammate whose defender has started to slide.”
Miles is participating in lacrosse at the highest level in the Portland area for his age group and he is a member of the Rhino Rippers. Rhino Lacrosse CEO, the former Syracuse University and pro lacrosse star Ryan Powell speaks of Miles’ skills in this manner, “Miles is on the select team in our program that keeps only the top 22 kids. Miles made the team based solely on his ability, as does every player in our program.” When I asked Ryan about Miles, his response was one word, “Amazing!”
Joel White, a former All-American at Syracuse and current Major League Lacrosse star for the Rochester Rattlers met Miles at the Rhino Lacrosse camp. White commented that Miles was the camp’s MVP, not just because he has an amazing attitude but also because, “he can play!”
Miles’ mom said of her son, “Most importantly, Miles is an amazing human being,” which is the same sentiment echoed by Powell and White. As for me, I characterize him best as a team player first, with great skills and an even better attitude.
I asked Miles how his teammates felt about him. “My coach usually gives me the ball in big situations and my teammates know I will give the ball up if they are open, they like that.” Again, speaking only as a lacrosse player, not a person with a disability.
My last question to Miles was simply, “who inspires you?” His answer, “Paul Rabil and Ryan Powell, they taught me about hard work and how it will pay off, they have taught me how to succeed, to never make excuses and never be satisfied.”
What Miles Moscato taught all of us, at the West Linn Rhino Lacrosse Camp, was way more than we taught him. We were the ones inspired. Miles Moscato is a fine lacrosse player, and Tammy Moscato, you can be assured that even as good as he is at lacrosse; he is still a finer human being.
We would like to thank Miles, Tammy and the rest of the Moscato family for allowing us to share their incredible story, and Coach Kirk Ventiquattro for carefully crafting it into one that shows what this great sport is all about – passion and dedication, no matter what the obstacle!