Her smile can light up a room.
Yes, Jenna Fesemyer is having fun competing for multiple Southeast High School varsity athletic teams.
She enjoys the camaraderie with her teammates, and of course, like most teenage girls, she loves to talk and laugh.
Fesemyer, 15, has received a lot of media attention lately — seven interviews this summer — for competing in track and field and golf with a “normal” right leg and a prosthetic left leg.
She has handled the interview requests in a classy manner and stays humble.
“I think it is fun to do these interviews,” Fesemyer said with a laugh Wednesday.
“Wow, I am really blessed. This has all happened so fast. I know somebody upstairs has a big plan for me.”
Fesemyer is not bitter over what took place on Jan. 31, 1997, when she was born to parents Cindy and David Fesemyer with a rare congenital disease called proximal femoral focal deficiency. She is a triplet, with brother Jonathan and sister Jessica slightly older than her by a few minutes.
Jonathan and Jessica are both “able-body” teens.
Fesemyer embraces that she is different and is having fun with it.
“No one has more fire or desire to win than that kid,” Southeast girls golf coach Gus Farmakidis said. “When I get up in the morning I don’t need a cup of coffee. I just go talk to Jenna.
“She just inspires you to be a better coach, a better player and a better person. That is her.”
Fesemyer shot a 6-over-par-42 at Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course in Lake Milton on Tuesday night to earn the medalist honor and lead Southeast to a match win over Firestone.
“Her game is really all starting to come together,” Farmakidis said. “She is playing very well. She is so excited right now.”
Fesemyer, who is 5-foot-7, said she had never carded a round below 50 until Tuesday.
“It was such an honor going out with Brooke Morgan of Firestone,” Fesemyer said. “I look up to her a lot and have seen her play before. It was a great experience to have and a great opportunity to run with. I don’t know Brooke that well, but she is a really good golfer.”
Southeast upped its record to 5-0 in the Greater Akron Girls Golf League after placing second in the league preseason tournament behind St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Southeast will play Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and St. Vincent-St. Mary at 4 p.m. today at Fox Den Golf Course in Stow.
Farmakidis said Fesemyer has worked her way up to the Pirates No. 3 spot after starting the season at No. 6. Junior Miah Brawley, freshman Macie Hysell, senior Katie Shaw, junior Hannah Pennington and junior Alyssa Reese have also made key contributions for the Pirates.
“All the able-body people add so much to my life,” Fesemyer said. “I get a lot of motivation from them, especially the cross country team. Those runners are all warriors.”
Fesemyer’s mother, Cindy, is Southeast’s girls cross country and track and field coach. Cindy is a physical education teacher for kindergarten through fifth grade at Southeast Elementary School and her David is the principal.
Fesemyer and her parents were not all smiles initially when doctors thought she would never be able to walk or play sports.
She was fitted for her first prosthetic leg at age 2. She has worn 13 or 14 prosthetic legs overall and is really comfortable with her current one that was donated to her in June by a company called Ossur.
“It feels and fits the best,” Fesemyer said. “It has what is called vacuum suspension. That helps keep the limb on and helps me when I run too. I haven’t felt pain at all. Last year I came back from basketball camp and got a stress fracture. I felt pain here and there, but once I got this leg I have felt so much more free.”
Fesemyer sees Dr. Jean Pasini of the Orthotics & Prosthetics Rehabilitation Center in Niles about every other week for routine checkups.
Fesemyer said she watched the Paralympic Trials in person in Indianapolis from June 28-July 1 and got to see Americans, Australians and Venezuelans compete.
“The experience was wonderful,” Fesemyer said. “I got to run with the fastest sprinter in the world for the 100 and 200 meters, April Holmes. We ran a cool-down lap together. It was a whole different environment and something I will never forget.”
Holmes is the world record in the 100, 200 and 400.
Fesemyer said she enjoys running the 400 and throwing the discus.
“Running is my passion,” Fesemyer said. “I am just now starting to get in better shape. So now I am really starting to enjoy it. It was never enjoyable before because I was never fast and just didn’t have the proper leg. Now I do, so I can express my passion for the sport.”
Fesemyer rides a stationary bicycle and swims to condition her body. She lettered as a freshman in golf and track and field, and also enjoys playing basketball, volleyball and bowling.
With her confidence and spirits up, Fesemyer watched the Summer Olympics in London earlier this month on television and cheered on South African runner Oscar Pistorius, who qualified for the Olympics and Paralympics with two prosthetic legs.
“It would mean so much to me to meet Oscar,” Fesemyer said. “He has done so much and he is such an inspiration. I follow him on Twitter. He is just so great to hear about and so much fun to watch run. He has a bunch of commercials that just came out and they are fun to watch. They are very motivational for me.
“As I go onto my next couple of years, I want to try to go to the Paralympics for maybe the 400 and discus. I am not really sure what events at this point, but those might be events I would want to do. To see him compete in the Olympics and Paralympics is awesome. It is something that has never happened before.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.