Ever since I was old enough to play sports, I always participated despite having relatively weak gross motor skills and low level of endurance. Those around me couldn’t quite understand why I kept participating, however, with wonderful coaches and strong family support, I was able to have a very positive experience. By reading this, my goal for you is to see that it doesn’t matter if you are last in a race or sit on the bench for team sports. What matters most is that you are part of a team forming strong bonds with teammates and coaches and learning how to persevere through the tough times.
As I continued to grow and mature and after trying multiple team and individual sports, cross-country and track became the two I stayed with. Right away I knew cross-country was the right fall sport for me as Jim Adams, my coach, saw the positives before the negatives. He always valued my hard work and determination rather than just seeing me as an incredibly slow runner. Throughout my time in athletics he became my strongest advocate. Consequently it’s disappointing to me when those with disabilities decide to end their time in sports since coaches enjoy those who work hard and who are good teammates not just the best athletes. I want those of you who are doubting yourselves to remember this. You can never have enough strong advocates in your corner as you live your life with a disability.
Each year while I continued to be the weakest runner in terms of talent my coach thankfully showed me that being a supporter and a hard worker is what makes a great teammate. This transferred to my time on the indoor and outdoor track, and during my career I received multiple school and sectional sportsmanship awards by exemplifying both of these traits daily. In addition, through my participation as a three season runner all through high school my teammates were able to understand my disability which enabled them to be a strong support to me during the hard times. As I made my way through high school their support was vital for reaching maximum success
So if you are thinking about giving up or not even giving it a try, I truly believe you are making a mistake. Honestly, there will be many difficult moments but I strongly urge you to never give in as you will miss out on being part of something special. You will be amazed by the number of people that will reach out to you and believe in you more. Like any obstacle there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So never give up and help increase the incredibly low number of individuals with disabilities participating in varsity sports. I know it will be something you will be so proud of!
Jim Adams continues to be my biggest supporter and I am so grateful for all his wonderful care!Share your own story