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From Gym Coach to Adaptive Athlete: Scott’s Unstoppable Journey Through Sports and Recreation

A native Coloradan, Scott has been active all his life. He was a gym coach for 35 years, teaching gymnastics, karate, dance, and cheerleading at the two gyms he owned. But that was just the summer; he spent his winters “going out on the road” to do acrobatics. He was a high diver and a trampolinist and even, at one point, a circus clown, and would perform at state fairs and amusement parks, doing things like jumping 80 feet into 8 feet of water.

When Scott lost his vision, he never left the athletic world, merely adapted to stay within it. He still climbs and runs 5k’s. He even got involved in adaptive sports including Bieber Ball, and Goalball. He has a special fondness for Goalball, which was created in 1946 for veterans who had lost their vision; the sport involves rolling a ball filled with bells across a court, to attempt to get it into a goal, which the other teams players attempt to block it by throwing their entire body in front of the goal. Though as he has grown older, he has been able to play Goalball less, Scott still speaks of it affectionately:

[The ball] moves pretty fast, but the thing weighs, say 3 pounds and you block it by sliding sideways on your body and you take it in the chest or the face or the, the leg or whatever. It hits you and it’s just brutal… It’s very painful and difficult. But, you know, it makes you feel like you’re alive.”

Scott now works at the Independence Center in Colorado Springs, which helps foster independence in people with disabilities. Here, he does peer support, peer counseling and acts as a sort of recreation director. 

“[The Independence Center] gave me an opportunity to do what I had been doing before, which is sports and recreation and then some coaching and counseling. And so it’s been working out great”

Scott met Penn Street when she was doing events for Erik Weihenmayer, the first man who is blind to summit Mount Everest and one of Scott’s personal “superheroes.” He found out about AINC’s first Bringing Print to Life Hike through an email that promised to summit Arapahoe basin.

“It was just a great chance to meet a lot of other people that are blind or visually impaired and here in the state… it is really great when that kind of thing comes along.”

Scott hikes often, and has done several other hiking events, so he understands the organization that goes into events like the Bringing Print to Life Hike: scheduling, transportation, and accommodation. 

Your program is, is very accommodating because it’s fairly inexpensive. You just have to want to participate. Sometimes that can make a lot of difference with the friction of how to attend: can I get there? And does it cost anything else?”

What Scott believes AINC does particularly well, however, is giving clients a chance to meet their guides. 

“It’s nice when you can know your guide because you can talk about the language of, ‘Hey, we’re gonna go over this bridge and you’ll make a 45-degree turn to the left,’ or ‘we’re gonna step up in 321, step up.’ [AINC] did a great job. We had a meet your guide the night before. We went to the restaurant in the lodge and met the person who was going to take us up the mountain the next day, which was great because you got to talk a little bit… you get familiar and get comfortable with the person that’s gonna help me get up the mountain.”

Scott has always been an athlete; losing his vision never changed that. He hikes, skis, and runs. The Bringing Print to Life Hike is just one of the numerous ways he stays active. 

By Kaatje Vanderberg

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