Missing America’s Favorite Past Time!

This article is part of a weekly series written by Kalari, a writer, athlete, mother and employee of The Chicago Lighthouse who is visually impaired. She shares her perspective on a variety of topics in order to build community.

Coffee with kalari logo

 

As some COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, I am happy to see sports returning to America’s arenas. Unfortunately, one sport will not return this year and I am completely heartbroken. I play a sport called Beep Baseball. This is a sport that has been adapted for blind athletes.  We play with a 16-inch softball that has a speaker within it. Everyone is blindfolded except your pitchers, catchers, and spotters. The ball beeps and the base buzzes. If the blindfolded batter can make it to the buzzing base before the blindfolded fielder picks up the beeping ball, then the runner will be safe.

I have been in love with this sport since the age of nine. It came during a period where I was adjusting to my newfound blindness.   I lost my vision suddenly at the age of six. I have a condition called Hydrocephalus that I acquired at birth. At the age of six, I experience some complications and I had a huge blockage that formed within my optic nerves. I immediately lost 90 percent of my vision. I have some light perception but that is all.

Every summer since I was nine, I played this sport competitively. This sport saved my life because it rescued me from a world of anger, sadness, and violent outbursts.  I hated being labeled blind and I hated people who could see. I was just miserable. Even now when I look back, those were the darkest and saddest moments in my life.  It was a huge adjustment for me learning how to not use my eyes. I went through several years of anger and sadness, but out the blue I found Beep Baseball.  A summer program came to my school and introduced many adaptive sports to my friends and I and one of those sports was Beep Baseball.

I gravitated to this sport. I already had baseball in my blood because I watched my parents play for years. Through this sport, I learned how to cope with my blindness. I was able to run freely again. I was able to tackle a base and I was also able to allow my athletic ability to take over. I am a natural athlete, so I quickly excelled in this sport.  This sport saved my life and I owe everything I am to it.

Image of Kalari swinging the bat during a beep baseball game
Beep Baseball saved my life and helped me cope with my blindness.

In addition to allowing my competitive nature to take over, I also gained confidence. My confidence grew with every defensive play I made on the field and with every run I scored. I was able to allow my confidence to help me not only in this sport, but in life. I went on to obtain two degrees and gain meaningful employment. I am also a mother of three and a wife.

As I mentioned above, I am extremely excited that the world is opening up a bit and sports are returning; I am just sad it is already too late for my beloved Beep Baseball. This will be my first time in 20 years not participating in the World Series of Beep Baseball. I am not just missing the game, but I am missing my friends I see every year from around the country and I also miss practicing with my Chicago Comets, which I consider to be my summer family. I guess there is always next year.  What sports are you missing due to the pandemic?

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