Why She’s Interesting: The high school junior is the No. 1 ranked wheelchair fencer in the U.S. and the winner of three national championships. Having competed in able-bodied fencing from the age of 9, the Parma teen’s cerebral palsy had her transition to wheelchair fencing in 2013. She’s gone on to compete in multiple competitions, including the September Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Competitive Edge: In the more aggressive wheelchair fencing, DeLuca found she excelled. “My first event I came in second place. And the event after that, I was getting first, first, first, first. So I was like, I’m kind of good at this.”
People First: DeLuca is able to walk to classes and around town. Her cerebral palsy means she gets tired easily and sometimes has a noticeable limp. She uses her fencing wheelchair while at airports. “People with a disability are still people. I mean, we may walk funny or we may not be able to see, but we’re still people.”
Golden Girl: Although DeLuca didn’t medal in the Rio Paralympics, she loved the challenge of international competition. “It was so cool seeing all these sports and meeting new people.” She has her sights set on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. “But I have to apply for college first.”
Going Solo: DeLuca’s favorite thing about fencing is that it’s a solo sport. “I really like that what I do is on me. In a team event, you rely on your team to win. You know the Cavs, the Indians, both are incredible teams, but they’re a team, there’s not one person that does all the work. I like that I’m in charge of my actions, I’m the one accountable for how well I do.”
Train Station: DeLuca trains four times a week during the school year and five weekly session during the summer at Hooked on Fencing in North Royalton. “I was there a lot of times this summer just practicing and practicing. It got to the point where my coach wouldn’t even ask, ‘How are you?’ cause he saw me a day before. Nothing would have changed.”
Med Works: While her favorite subject is history, DeLuca wants to study biomedical engineering in college. “I want to make prosthetics.” She has friends who use prosthetics, which can be expensive and breakable. “I want to make them more durable and more cost affordable.”
Central Perks: Training, studying and working takes up much of DeLuca’s time. But now that she’s not training as much? “I’ve devoted some time to Friends on Netflix. Ross and Rachel are my favorite.”