It's about heart, soul for multi-sport star

High schools: Cambridge-South Dorchester's Brendan Kincaid, born with less than half a right arm, is a four-sport varsity athlete.

High Schools

January 03, 2004|By Nathan Max | Nathan Max,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CAMBRIDGE - Underestimating Brendan Kincaid is a ticket to getting burned.

Several young outfielders learned that lesson during a baseball all-star game seven years ago. When they witnessed a 10-year-old Kincaid approach the plate with less than half a right arm, the result of a birth defect, they all immediately cheated several yards toward the infield. Moments later, they helplessly watched the ball sail over their heads after Kincaid, swinging with just his left arm, slammed a triple.

Spectators at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School's varsity basketball road games have been educated as well. Kincaid, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior guard, sometimes hears the home crowd urging defenders to force him right. Those same fans simmer down once Kincaid, going in that direction, slices into the lane and dishes an assist.

"I just laugh when I hear people say things like that, because he's got so much talent in just that one arm," said senior Jymarr Tilghman, Kincaid's teammate on the basketball team. "Everything I can do with two hands, he can do with one."

Kincaid is the only four-sport varsity athlete at Cambridge-South Dorchester and one of the few in the state. Kincaid is a small school first-team All-State place-kicker in football, a tennis state champion, the leading scorer on the soccer team and has been named Bayside Conference Player of the Year five times in three different sports.

Kincaid, 17, has made his mark simply for being one of the most accomplished all-around athletes in state history. Kincaid has become an inspiration to this small Eastern Shore town, known more for being a pit stop to beach-goers on the way to Ocean City.

Kincaid is revered by his classmates, who recently voted him homecoming king. A headline in the Cambridge-South Dorchester school newspaper once called him "The One-Armed Legend."

"To say that he is a pretty good athlete is an understatement," said Cambridge-South Dorchester soccer coach Hannah Boettger. "He's amazing, and his handicap doesn't come into play. He is a real leader by example for a lot of kids and a great role model."

Barring a serious injury that would prevent him from playing spring sports, Kincaid will graduate as an almost unheard of 15-time varsity letter winner. Most recently, Kincaid was recognized as Bayside Conference Player of the Year twice in one season - in football for special teams and in soccer. It was the second straight year he took those honors in football.

In tennis, Kincaid has a career 51-0 singles record, won a state championship in boys doubles as a junior, was a state finalist in mixed doubles as a sophomore, and has been Bayside Conference Player of the Year two straight seasons.

"It's not something I really would call a disability, because I can do a lot of things that other people can't," Kincaid said. "When people ask me what it's like to have one arm, I ask them what it's like to have two arms. I don't know any different."

Thrill of competition

Kincaid has relied on a compulsive personality trait ideal for a developing athlete. He can never get enough competition.

Kincaid's parents, Joe and Maureen, described taking him to a miniature golf course one vacation. To save money, the parents purchased an all-day pass because Brendan refused to stop putting. He finally did after 13 rounds - 234 holes.

"Whenever I get hooked on something, any kind of sport, I just want to keep doing it and keep doing it," Kincaid said. "When I get into it, I do it for hours at a time and it's like an addiction."

Through this kind of repetition, Kincaid has taught himself to use his right elbow like a second hand. He can catch footballs, basketballs and baseballs, has filled in at goalkeeper for the soccer team and even practiced with the football team as a wide receiver when soccer season ended. Not surprisingly, Kincaid is not all that impressed when he sees college and NFL receivers making "spectacular" one-handed receptions.

Because he plays soccer, Kincaid was eligible only to place-kick and punt for the football team.

"I'm still thinking about what could have been," said Cambridge-South Dorchester football coach Scott Dodson. "Brendan would have started at wide receiver if he had decided not to play soccer. He's got speed, heart and desire. He goes about playing all his sports like he doesn't have a disability, and that's what sets him apart from everybody else."

In basketball, Kincaid is an adept ballhandler. He can dribble between his legs, pass behind his back, drive to the basket and hit three-pointers. He has been a contributor as a reserve guard since his sophomore year, and coach Colvin Camper said Kincaid may start before the end of the season.

"At first, I kind of thought that there would be some things he wouldn't be able to do," Camper said. "I never thought he would be able run the point. But he can. He makes good decisions. He's able to penetrate, dish, and he can do anything any other kid can do."

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