Sydney Satchell’s Story

A winter morning…

Black ice…


A tree…

Jaws of Life…

The hospital.

Broken bones…



It all happened so quickly. And just like that, Sydney Satchell was an amputee. But what makes Satchell different from most that face the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that come with this type of diagnosis, is the positivity she displayed in the face of adversity. “I never got down,” Satchell said. “I never was tremendously sad. My optimism and positivity have allowed me to get through this year in terms of the accident and the amputation of my lower left leg.”

According to Dee Stephan, her high school lacrosse coach, and now her coaching colleague with the CT Dodgers Lacrosse club, “Sydney is not bitter, nor does she feel sorry for herself. She views this as a hurdle that she can overcome.”

Despite five surgeries before her leg was even amputated, and the extensive rehabilitation process afterwards, Satchell maintained her fighting spirit. “Right from the time I went to see her after she got home from the hospital, she wanted back on the field,” Stephan said. “Her amazing outlook and her ability to see the positives have been great.”

After playing multiple scholastic sports at Ethel Walker School, Satchell went on to play lacrosse collegiately at Howard University and is now teaching and coaching at the Berkshire School. She also coaches with the Dodgers Lacrosse Club and has taken advantage of the opportunities her involvement in education and athletics have provided for her. “I absolutely love sharing my passion for a sport and a subject with students and players. It brings me great joy to share that passion and be a part of such great moments in their lives when they are shaping who they are,” she said.

Satchell sees teaching and coaching as serious business, mainly because of the experiences she had with sport. She explained that “I take it seriously because I know what the great coaches that I had did for me. I was able to do some really great things on and off the field as a result of their great teaching. I want to say thank you to them. When you see your player or student accomplish something they have been working so hard on, there is no greater feeling because you are happy for them. I love to see when my players are working hard at something and their efforts show through and they accomplish the goal they set out to do. It definitely gives me great joy to coach and teach.”

Satchell has been very open about the adversity she has faced, and Stephan sees that as something special that Satchell can offer the young women she works with. “My goal is to keep Sydney in coaching and expose as many young people as I can to her strength and passion,” Stephan explained. “Sydney was always a competitive athlete, but in high school, that sometimes led to frustration when things didn’t go her way. But this Sydney is so mature, and she has leaned how to channel that competitive fire. This is simply another battle for her and it’s inspiring to watch her continue to move forward.”

Although her experience has taught her many things, Satchell says one of the most important is that “you have to trust your journey, and that everybody’s journey will be different. You have to think of disappointment as something you can use in the future. I think that I’ve had a lot of impact on my friends and people in my circles because of my accident. I’ve been a better friend, a better listener, and a better coach because of the accident.”

Satchell had to learn how to walk again, and needed help to do numerous little things that so many of us take for granted. “My advice for anyone facing adversity is to realize that it’s ok to need help. At the moment of the accident, I was 22 years old, and there’s certain things that you don’t expect to ever need your parents for. Going to the bathroom, showering, brushing my teeth, even putting my hair in a ponytail. I needed my Mom… and I couldn’t afford to be afraid to ask for help.” Satchell wants to share this lesson with others. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because someone may have the perfect answer or solution to what you’re going through. We all go through things over the course of our lifetime, and I’d rather give you advice or help you in any way that I can because I’ve been there. And I would hate for you to struggle when you don’t need to because I may have something to offer that will make your situation that much easier.”

If you are fortunate enough to spend five minutes with Satchell, it becomes very clear how mentally strong she is, and she attributes some of that strength to her participation in sport. “I can honestly say that it wasn’t my coaches that made me tough. But I think that my response to their toughness, or my response to their level of intensity, and their level of expectation on the court or the field, that definitely made me tough. I wanted to be the best. At the end of the day, I wanted to be that person with the ball when there’s seconds left on the clock and we’re up or we’re down, because that meant I put in the work and I deserved to be on the field. I prepared for those moments.”

But nothing can prepare you for the loss of limb that Satchell faced. However, her training as an athlete contributed to her personal development and helped make her the type of person that could handle the challenge with grace. “I can honestly say there was never a moment when I mentally or physically prepared to lose my leg,” Satchell allowed. “But all of the years of working hard and putting forth great effort, no matter who was looking, I can honestly say made me a better athlete and made me a person of resilience, tenacity, and perseverance.”

Satchell’s faith has also helped her to move forward. She explained that “Having a lifestyle of faith and believing in something greater than me has helped me have hope and not beat myself up over every single mistake I may make. It’s helpful to be able to put my trust in something greater than me. I’m not some kind of ultra-human, or super-human person. My heart beats just like yours. My feet walk just like yours. I put my hair in a ponytail the same way every other girl does, but it was something greater than me that allowed me to not get sad when they told me that they may have to amputate my leg.”

And by being so ordinary, under the most extraordinary of circumstances, Sydney Satchell has shown us the true value of participation in sports. Learning how to be humble, yet tough, how to persevere in the face of adversity, and how to trust in someone else’s plan, prepares you for life. We can all follow Satchell’s lead by having the courage to move forward on our journey, despite the obstacles in our way, with a positive attitude.

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