During high school, being a runner was such an incredible experience. It gave me a purpose and identity. I wasn’t just the learning disabled and seizure kid, I was a runner and a teammate. However, I faced many obstacles along the way and at times it did seem hopeless, though thankfully I never gave into them.
The biggest obstacle of them all surfaced during Cross-Country. Due to my poor spatial perception I would get lost at times while running my race and sometimes it was so bad I would have to drop out of the race. This lead me to feel like a bad teammate. Fortunately my coach Jim Adams was always right there with a hug and offering support. Afterwards we could have a laugh about it and everything became better.
Another obstacle I faced was not being able to put on my running bib, since my fine motor skills were so limited I struggled doing this and this truly made me feel like I was little kid. Thankfully my coach always took care of it graciously but, I thought to myself, “I can’t even do this” which lead me to think having me on the team is so overwhelming for everyone and that I should not join the team next year. Jim though always told me that Cross-Country is all about giving it your best and that was what I was all about.
Socially being an athlete with a disability affected me. Some people who I was friendly with didn’t quite understand how a student with a learning disability like mine could also be popular teammate. By my coach speaking so fondly about me more teachers gave me a chance and believed in me more as a student in their class. My peers were also more accepting of me which made me feel that I belonged. Furthermore, I truly felt horrible that there were others who wanted to join but didn’t have the support and connections to make it happen. I am not sure I would have joined a team if not for my parents encouragement and coaches full support.
Through each difficulty I always realized my coach was right. I did belong in the field. For me personally it taught me how to cope with life’s obstacles. His care was very instrumental for this to happen and along the way I was able to form some great friendships. Years later I still think the world of them all as they changed my life for the better.
Overall, while it’s hard I hope you never give up as being part of sports teams leads to creating stronger friendships and seeing your true abilities. Also, talent really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work hard, listen and believe in your coach and are respectful of your teammates. If you can do that there’s no reason to give up. Therefore I strongly believe being part of a team will turn into a memorable experience.
I so idolized Jim Adams as he changed my life for better!