By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
When Susan Stevens’ son Joshua was young, she wanted him to learn how to swim, but she got a little nervous about letting someone else teach him.
Joshua had been born without a full left arm.
“Finally I decided to take him to a lesson and just be nearby in case he needed me,” she said.
And when the young lady who was teaching the lessons walked up and introduced herself, Susan Stevens was speechless.
“She only had one hand — her arm was identical to Joshua’s,” she said. “I was amazed. It was so obvious God had orchestrated it. And it was one of the many times we saw the faithfulness of God taking care of the details and taking care of our family.”
Fast forward a little more than a decade and Joshua Stevens is in his last year as a pitcher for Vestavia Hills High School.
He’s committed to play ball next year at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
“God has given him the determination to do whatever he has set his mind to — we’ve seen that since early on,” Susan Stevens said.
“He’s learned to face anything he’s up against.”
His love of baseball started around age 5 when his family moved from Huntsville to the Birmingham area.
Joshua Stevens said, “I saw other people playing, so I started trying it — it was a lot of trial and error to find what worked.”
He modeled his technique after major league pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand.
“I tried different things and modified it, and eventually it started to become second nature. Everything kind of came natural once I started getting it down,” Joshua Stevens said. “I started to really like it and I was able to keep going.”
When he pitches, he tucks his glove under his left arm and throws the ball with his right. At the end of his pitching motion, he tucks his hand back into his glove.
He’s a “great athlete” and he’s “well respected among his peers,” said Andrew Johnson, minister to students at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, where the Stevenses are members.
‘Faith determines a lot’
“We are excited to see how he grows as a Christian athlete at Huntingdon College,” Johnson said. “He has worked hard to get to this point and has overcome a lot but honestly from knowing him even as a middle schooler I’m not surprised to see him have this opportunity now.”
Joshua Stevens said his faith has been important to him since he accepted Christ at age 9.
“Your faith determines a lot and holding onto it helps you pick the right friend group and make the right decisions,” he said.
Susan Stevens said that when they go to tournaments, people from other teams will gather to watch her son pitch, and there have been moments where seeing him play has been an encouragement to kids facing obstacles.
Joshua Stevens said he doesn’t even really think about his arm much anymore and he would tell any kid to “not give up if something gets difficult.”
“Keep pursuing it and don’t give up,” he said.
Among top 7 in state
Stevens was named the 7A class winner for the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Achievement Award on April 10. He was among 52 high school honorees from around the state who were chosen for their ability to overcome adversity during their high school athletic careers.