February 14, 2023
I remember competing in the long jump in an indoor meet eight or nine years after I had lost my sight. We were at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at this time, Coach Brian Whitmer was my long jump caller. In other words, he was responsible for clapping and yelling so I would know where to run and jump from.
It started off terribly. Coach Whitmer’s claps were muffled by cheering fans. We were indoors. His voice was echoing through the stadium. The long jump runway and track were separated by stanchions. I ran into those. I just couldn’t get it together. Not too far away was a gentleman who said something along the lines of, "What is going on? This kid shouldn’t be doing this. He’s going to hurt himself." This has prompted me to begin working on a speech centered around the idea that although others may say "we can’t" our action should always say we can."
Everyone will always have an opinion. People talk. Sometimes they imply that you may not be able to conquer a certain task. There’s a saying that I’ve heard over and over again growing up, and it goes a little something like this, "I can show you better than I can tell you."
I was 17 years old, competing for Athens Drive High School at the great UNC, and I believed in something so much that I wasn’t going to allow someone else’s words to impede my progress. For the record, Coach Whitmer and I were able to make the adjustments and we finished the competition successfully with no bumps or bruises.
Who cares what the outsiders say? Actions speak louder than words, right? Some may say, "How are you going to graduate from college? No one in your family has achieved that to this point." Bury your head in the books, assert yourself, and soon you’ll show them that celebratory strut across the stage.
"You haven’t made a putt from this distance ever. What makes you think it’ll be different this stroke?" Wait a minute, watch this... *as ball rolls across the green into the hole.
"Why are you competing in long jump? You’re blind. It’s dangerous." It may look dangerous to you, but I don’t see any issues with it. Ha!
Others will say "you can’t," but your actions should always say "I can".