CARY, N.C. – Carson Pickett might have been born without the lower part of her left arm, but it was never an excuse.

Not once. Ever. Her parents, Mike and Treasure, just wouldn’t allow it.

Mom played basketball at Centenary and Northeast Louisiana back in college, so Carson took up the game, too. But that wasn’t all. Carson also competed in tennis, track and swimming while growing up in Fleming Island, Florida.

And soccer. Don’t forget soccer. Mike was on the soccer team at both Northeast Louisiana and USC-Spartanburg, and if Treasure could have Carson on the basketball court, his sport was fair game, too.

The journey hasn’t always been an easy one, but it’s already seen Carson win one College Cup with her Florida State teammates last season. The Seminoles are going for a second straight national championship and play Duke on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.

The long and short of it was this. There was no babying young Carson Pickett … and just look at where it’s taken her.

“I never did say the word ‘can’t,’ but ‘can’t’ was never allowed in my vocabulary, according to my parents,” Carson said. “When I got to the age where I could understand that, they sat me down and they were like, ‘We don’t want to hear any excuses. There are people out there with much harder lives. You can do anything you set your mind to.’”

Her motto in life boils down to this, and it would make for an excellent motivational T-shirt, if there’s not already one.

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Don’t ever say “Can’t”

Carson didn’t just play soccer, either. She excelled in it, winning seven varsity letters in high school at St. Johns Country Day School in addition to three state championships. She was also the 2012 Gatorade State Player of the Year in high school.

“Luckily in my hometown, I was always kind of in the spotlight,” Pickett said. “Not that I loved it, but it’s a pretty soccer-oriented area. With that kind of support, I never really was down on myself too much. I took my parents’ word, because I knew they knew better than I did at a young age. I just ran with what they told me.”

Playing sports like basketball and tennis, there were obvious concessions that Caron had to make because of her birth defect. In soccer, that’s one of the most common questions she’s asked – what can’t she do on a soccer field.

Watch her play … and the answer’s pretty obvious. There’s nothing she can’t do on a soccer field.

“I’m pretty strong on my left side, as I am on my right side,” she explained. “Physically, I definitely try and force people to my right side so I can body them up with my right arm, but there’s not too much of a drop-off, luckily, from them going from my left to my right.”

When Carson was born, the parents of a girl born with the same issue as she had been came to the hospital to speak with Mike and Treasure. They were told that Carson would be just fine, that she could do anything she set her mind on, just like the other youngster.

From Day One, it was that kind of spirit the Picketts instilled in their little fireball. It was a good call if ever there was one.

Better yet, Carson has paid it forward and has made similar visits to other parents and their children facing issues of their own. She’s had letters written asking her for advice, and she’s also planning one such meeting shortly after the Christmas break to a little boy born with a missing left arm, almost exactly where Carson’s is.

“That’s kind of hit me hard, being able to go tell people that no matter what the condition, if you want to do something, you have a chance to do it,” Carson admitted. “It is a little harder sometimes, but that just makes the reward so much better. As long as you think you can do something, you know you can.”