DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — Sophia Midura has always marched to the beat of her own drum – well, in her case, to the bounce of her basketball.
“I played in a Y league first and I was the only girl on the team,” 15-year-old Sophia said. “I think that was about in third grade.”
While battling against all boys at eight years old may sound like a challenge, it was nothing considering what Sophia was already battling off the court.
“I wore a wig with a headband and down, gross,” she said wrinkling her nose. “It was not fun.”
At age six, Sophia started losing patches of her hair. Her mom, Amy, had her biggest fears confirmed: her daughter, just like her, had an autoimmune disease called Alopecia.
“Alopecia’s mean,” Amy said, “and you don’t know which way it’s going to go and you can’t stop your body.”
The Miduras monitored the situation for a couple of years seeing dermatologists and having blood work and tests done to get a concrete diagnosis. Eventually, the hair loss started to become more prominent, so Sophia and her parents started to fight back medically.
“We started hydrocortisone injections,” Amy said with a sigh. “So she would probably have 30 to 40 injections at a time. They’re [subcutaneous]: painful, awful.” But Amy explained that she and her husband Eric wanted to do everything they could to try to prevent or reverse the disease.
“There’s a lot of pressure on little girls anyways: how you should look, how you should act,” Amy explained. “If you’re different, you can usually control your differentness — but Alopecia takes that away.”
By the time Sophia entered fourth grade, she has lost her hair; but, she never lost sight of who she was thanks to an important role model.
“If Mom has it, it’s okay if I have it,” she said she realized. “There’s nothing wrong with me, it just happens to people and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”
So Sophia decided that while Alopecia may control her “differentness,” it wouldn’t control her – who she is as a person.
“Instead of being down about it, I just laugh about it — if that makes sense,” she said with a shrug. “Like, when I’m with my friends, my nickname is Bald Eagle. That’s how much we joke about it because I love it! Instead of being like, ‘Oh, I’m bald, I’m different,’ it’s like ‘I’m bald! I’m different!'”
The basketball court has always been kind of an equalizer for Sophia, because hair or no hair, it doesn’t matter. All that matters on this floor is what you put into the game. And what she brings to the court is tons of energy. That has been part of a girls basketball resurgence here at Delaware Hayes.
“She brought a lot of energy to the bench, she brings a lot of energy to practice,” said Pacers head coach Lou Tiberi, who took over the Delaware Hayes girls program at a time when more losses than wins were the norm. “My first year we were at 14 girls and now we’re up to 20. The infusion of positivity that Sophia brings to our team helped change the culture of our basketball program.”
Sophia even jokes that when it comes to sports, sometimes not having hair makes things easier.
“You don’t have to worry about your hair being pulled! Like, I can pull other people’s hair and they can’t do anything back!” she said with a laugh.
But even though Sophia is happy with who she is and accepting of her condition, she dreams of being known for more than Alopecia.
“Being kind,” she said, pleadingly. “Instead of being known as like, ‘Oh, Sophia Midura, the bald girl?’ No. Sophia Midura, the kind one. The one who always cares about people. The athletic one. Just know your worth and deal with it.”