Normally I do not participate in things of this nature, not that I have any reason not to, other than I never feel I have anything to contribute. This time I think I can contribute because I have lived with SD since the age of 15.The reason that I am writing is really for those young people who may be asking “What can I do with my life?”. My answer to you is “ANYTHING”.
I promise you things won’t always be easy, but life isn’t easy for anyone and it is no different for us. You will just face different challenges than other people. You will probably feel like you have to work harder than anyone else (as I do) and you that may be true, but that is all right. Do whatever is necessary. We are masters at adapting and finding ways to get things done in our own unique ways. Just think how every day we accomplish tasks in ways that are not “normal” but we get the job done.
This is not being written as a testimonial to what I have done with my life , because I believe I could have and will do more. This is being written as evidence that those with SD can do a wide range of things. I am currently 48 years old and have lived with being legally blind for 33 years.
At the age of 15 when diagnosed with SD I was the same as any young man excited about turning 16 and driving but that was not possible because at that time there were no bi-optic driving programs or any way for people with low vision to drive. I never discovered a bi-optic driving program until I was 30 years old and living in Ohio. I was able to obtain a license and drove for 16 years. Now I am unable to drive. That was a great 16 years and there is nothing like having that freedom, even though I had restrictions on my driving privileges.
Sports have always been my passion and I particularly love football. Basically, my life has centered around football since the age of 8. I was an All-State football player in high school and was able to play 4 years of college football while earning a BA degree in education and business. Upon graduation, the only thing that I wanted to do was to coach football (college football)/teach. Coaching college football is not a likely career for someone who is legally blind. I had to work hard just to get started. That involved learning as much as I could about the game but more importantly getting my foot in the door. I was relentless in contacting college coaches and applying for jobs. Eventually, I was given a chance to be a part-time coach at my former college for $1000.00. Next I knew to continue to pursue my dream I would need a Master’s Degree so I volunteered to coach at another college with the understanding that if I did a good job coaching during spring practice they would hire me as a graduate assistant. That meant I would get my graduate school paid and get a small salary. I worked hard and was hired. I completed my degree in one year and moved on to coach at 4 different colleges. For 15 of those years I was also an assistant professor of health and physical education and became a certified strength and conditioning coach.
When the opportunity came to become a head coach at the high school level I accepted, becoming a head coach and physical education teacher. After a few years in that position I decided to get back into college coaching and did so. My next goal was to get into athletic administration. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to become an athletic director at a catholic preparatory school. Now I am the director of facilities at that same school.
Over this period of time I have lived in 5 states and have traveled to Europe as a football player and as a coach. I also have a wife and two sons.
Again, my point is not to say that I have done anything great but to show you folks with SD that you can do whatever you want, “Do not limit yourself”.
If anyone wishes to e-mail me, please do: Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org