Editor's note: The following letter to the editor was submitted by golfer Mathew Juskie, a 16-year-old junior from Frankfort, addressing .
I was born with aniridia, which means I have no irises around my pupils to regulate the influx of light. When I’m outside, the natural sunlight is overwhelming, making it more difficult to focus. I’m legally blind, but that has never stopped me from playing golf—the sport I love.
I first picked up a golf club when I was three years old. Since then, I’ve taken so many swings that even if I could follow the trajectory of the ball, I wouldn’t need to; I know where it’s going the moment it leaves the club.
I’ve worked very hard to overcome my disability and participate as a member of the Lincoln Way-North High School golf team. As part of that, the Illinois High School Association has made accommodations to allow a spotter to accompany me at all IHSA events.
I’m one of many athletes the organization has accommodated over the years, and with its new pilot program that creates showcase events for even more athletes with disabilities, it’s my hope that more students with disabilities in Illinois will discover sports and have the kind of meaningful, life-changing experiences I’ve had.
Golf is my life, and not just because it’s very time consuming. I have a lot of friends because of golf. Golf has shaped my personality and given me self-confidence. Golf has taught me the importance of hard work, and has given me the gratification of accomplishing my goals. I am who I am because of golf.
We need more parents, teachers and coaches to be open to the idea of getting students with disabilities active in sports.
The chance to compete in IHSA events has always been available for student-athletes with disabilities. Now that those opportunities are getting a share of the spotlight, it’s up to students with disabilities to unlock their potential by discovering, as I have, what they are truly capable of achieving.
Mathew Juskie, 16, of Frankfort
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