Over the years I have thought about my accomplishments and what I have learned is my senior days are more special than I ever realized. Since now I see daily how few people with an NVLD or similar disability get to have this experience
My senior day in Cross-country was extra special to me as I gained my biggest advocate and a lifelong friend and today they continue to be incredibly special to me. It was clear on my senior day, how respected I was by other runners and how Coach Jim Adams celebrated me as a person not because of my disability and having the need to be kind. I reflect back to that moment and think more experiences like these need to occur.
Track was special to me in it’s own way as there were five seniors so I had a group to celebrate with. Our senior meet was against Canton and their coach had always been an extra coach to me and he had a tremendous impact on making my senior day happen. I had other teammates so the focus wasn’t mostly on me as there were other teammates who deserved kind words so while it didn’t leave as strong of impression like my cross country coach gave me, I knew she enjoyed me and I was so honored and proud that I never gave up.
So to me, it is surprising how running stories are so rare for NVLD students or others with similar disabilities as I am a strong believer there is no reason for this. The process doesn’t just happen quickly and to be well prepared requires extra coaching and running during the off seasons with experienced runners. I know how this works and how inclusion in sports like running is quite possible. It was during my senior days that I realized this and I sincerely hope there will be an increase of students having these experiences as there is more to be proud of than just academic achievements when overcoming an NVLD or other disability.
What is forgotten, too, is typically those with an NVLD truly benefit from verbal recognition as they struggle with non-verbal communication. I know this is true for me and it was my senior day that made Coach Adams an incredible supporter of mine and to this day, that hasn’t changed. Yes, to get there can be a lot of work though encouraging and kind words do wonders for these students as they are able to see their hard work is paying off and they are respected for their efforts.
Overall, my hope is that there will be an increase of NVLD students getting connected to something all four years of high school. As truthfully, these experiences typically lead to a higher self-esteem and increase the passion to do well. As I saw others who locked these opportunities, I could see personally how much it makes a real difference.
I adore my Cross-Country Coach and always will. He is the most loving, caring, supportive, and fun person I know!Share your own story