Where my path began to change: An Introduction

Sep 26, 2013
Tagged with: Where my path began to change: An Introduction

I was on the softball field with my family taking batting practice.  My sister was up to bat, my father was pitching and my Mom and I were out in the field shagging balls.  I told my Mom I was having some pain in my right eye and when I closed my left eye I really  couldn’t see Dad pitching.  We finished up practice and headed home. I rinsed out my eye thinking maybe I got dirt under my contact or something.  After removing my contact and flushing my eye there was no change.  My parents got me into my optometrist that day then quickly sent me up to the Air Force Academy emergency room as whatever was going on was beyond them.

This would be the first day of a different journey and path I would take the rest of my life.  I had plans on getting that college scholarship in my main sport of basketball, playing for Pat Summit and maybe a few years over in Europe as the WNBA didn’t exist at that time.  Then follow my father and my grandfathers before him into the military life.  Again that day everything changed even though at that point I didn’t know how much it would change.

The next couple of months I saw specialist after specialist and they weren’t sure what was causing the issue either but then the same thing happened in my left eye.  Now they decided to send me out of state to Washington University in St. Louis, this is where for the first time a Dr. told myself and my parents that the vision loss I had would not be returning.  I had nerve damage due to inflammation and those weren’t going to grow back.  I was left with shadows out of my right peripheral vision and about 20/1600 out of my left peripheral vision. No central vision at all.

Sports and recreation was something my family  had always done together, it was what made me successful in school, if I didn’t keep my grades up to my parents standards which were much more strict than the schools then I didn’t play.  My coaches knew how much I loved the game of basketball, volleyball or whatever.  I just loved to play.

I was lucky, my basketball coach was my volleyball coach and she never looked back, we worked out what I could or couldn’t do successfully and help the team.  Volleyball was the first sport and we found my serving was not affected at all it was all about timing.  I couldn’t follow the ball though afterwards so my teammates after I was subbed in to serve would cover the floor with 5.  If I did my job and aced the serve no problem.  Then basketball came around my true love and again my college dream.

If it weren’t for my parents knowing how much I loved basketball, my coach and my teammates willing to change their approach a little and my willingness to accept my teammates would forget to bounce pass and I would get Wilson upside the head then basketball would have ended before it started.

Instead I was able to play basketball for three more years before going totally blind.

However one of the bigger life changing moments happened when a local paper ran an article on this young teen that was legally blind still playing competitive basketball.  My family would receive a phone call that would change not only my life and my path and journey but my families.

Author: Jen Armbruster



  • disqus_5xAua4nGWa

    Awesome Jeni, love it…can’t wait to read more! ~Korin

  • bobl07

    Jen is one of the all-time great athletes of our generation. She is considered in my opinion one the all-time great goalballers! Her strengths are her intelligence and work ethic. She’s not a bad Tae kwan Do instructor. Unfortunately, I can only last 15 seconds with her until I have to tap out. I am working to get it under ten seconds. She is awesome!

  • Dave Pierson

    Thanks for sharing your story Jen….can’t wait for more. You are on my radar to find at the next ODS gathering!