Tagged with: athletes disability exercise life
So the word Paralympics was introduced to me for the first time in 1990 while I was competing in my first national championship in the sport of Goalball. I met some tremendous ladies from the U.S. squad that were returning from the 1990 World Championships where they secured the U.S. team a slot for the 1992 Paralympic games to be held in Barcelona. The U.S. Coach, at the time, after seeing me play gatheredmy information and I went to my first U.S. training camp that fall.
I was fairly nervous in my first training camp and by far was the youngest there or so it seems when you are a 15 year old kid. Everyone made me feel welcomed though and I, at the time, had some usable vision. So, I watched these ladies, Patty, Maureen (Moe), Karen, and others play this game. I watched their techniques and listened a lot to not only the sport itself but about life.
These ladies had gone to college; they had careers they were engaged etc. So when in 1992 after making the team that would represent the U.S. in Spain that summer, two days before heading over and one day before my senior year in high school, the usable vision I had was gone in about 4 hours. I remember running around doing errands and turning in homework because I was going to miss the first 2 and ½ weeks of my senior year. I was turning in my Pre-calculus assignments when my math teacher went to show me something on the whiteboard, which had always been the go to spot to make something large enough for me to see. I said “I can’t see that any more! I can’t see anything anymore!” My father was with me that morning at breakfast to run errands and then to school to turn in homework. It hit home even throughout the morning. I kept getting back into our car and saying “the car is looking like it is fading more and more. I can’t really see the racing stripes anymore.” It was in my high school class that I was finally faced with no vision. I turned in my homework, then my father and I left. Not too much left to say really. We were not sure where we would go from here.
I have met some tremendous ladies and gentleman in life as well from our U.S. squad. It was through them that I knew that college was possible. I knew that I can have a job and a family, it was all still possible. My family, my teammates, my friends, and many others I met at the start, as well as along the way on this new path, helped to shape who I am and who I will continue to be. Words cannot say how invaluable the support one gets from family, friends, and teammates but it truly is priceless.
United States Blind Athletes Association