The Activity That Changed My Life, by Eileen

By June 13, 2018 November 12th, 2019 NVLD Bloggers

Throughout my life, I have a done a lot of things that were extremely difficult, though the one that had the most impact on me was running cross-country. The reason being, it was the first time in years that the adult in charge really understood me. Jim Adams, who was my coach, like my parents, raised exceptional children on both sides of the spectrum, so he had a deep understanding of the obstacles I faced on a daily basis and was able to see I had a number of strengths too. Honestly there was never a guarantee that I was going to be able to finish the race due to all the challenges I faced having NVLD, however, he always gave me the same advice, which was to not focus on how far away the other runners were, just to focus on doing my best, as that is the only thing that matters. I knew if a challenge occurred there was hope that the next run would go my way because he always offered such great advice and knew me so well personally. I wished things were different for me but he made sure I was staying true to myself and never gave up.

Runners during a cross country meet

Image from

Mr. Adams was also the person who made me discover how determined and strong I truly am and made me realize before joining the team I had been underestimating myself a little. One way he did this was keeping an extremely close eye on me. He wanted me to be sure I would have the confidence to do the whole thing, of course. At the time when I was thinking I actually have to run this far though, as the season went on, I realized he was doing it so I wouldn’t give up. I found out later from multiple evaluators, and my neurologist too, that running distance is extremely rare for someone with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability due to our low muscle tone and coordination, so that made me even more thankful for his endless support as I broke a barrier. John Wooden’s, who was UCLA’S legendary Basketball Coach, quote “A Good Coach can change a game. A Great Coach can change a life” certainly suits him well because I was able to take the more challenging path because of him and it changed my outlook on life for forever.

I hope today’s youth consider joining an activity that is challenging for them as it will make you realize how strong you truly are. Cross-country not only increased my physical endurance, it is also increased my social skills as my coach and the runners respected me and both of these skills are a weakness for NVLD students. When I think back to everything I went through, I realize I have accomplished what I have largely thanks to running. The reason being is the race is not over until you cross the finish line and not finishing is not an option.


I love going after a challenge and having a successful ending!

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