Sports Spotlight: Michalea Yandell

The first time I met Holliday's Michaela Yandell was on national signing day
And the minute you meet the young lady, you realize there's more to her than just athletic talent.
Ruthie Polinsky explains in tonight's sports spotlight.

Michaela Yandell began running track in junior high.
By looking at her, or watching her run, one would never know she's legally blind.

"I'm visually impaired in both of my eyes techncially. I'm 2070 in my right, and 2200 in my left, which, for most people that are 20/20 is obviously quite an impairment. I have no peripheral vision or depth perception because they had to have corrective surgery so early on for my eyes. I also have an astagmus, which causes my eyes to not be able to focus as well, especially when I start to get more tired and things like that. 06;24;03;01

"I have about 10 percent of the field of vision, where as most people have one hundred percent over here, so it's quite a loss in the sides and it's quite a loss this way as well." 

"It's tunnel vision, it's unclear, and it's probably like looking through some dirty binoculars is the best way that I can explain it."

While most people simply train their bodies to run, michaela has trained both her body and her eyes in order to maneuver on a cross country course or a track.

"the color's the easiest thing being able to tell the difference between the grass, or in our case, the dirt, and the track is a lot easier. Looking at the white lines, I try to focus, especially if I'm at the very inside, focus on that white line, focus on not stepping off the track. And it's a lot easier if there is somebody in front of me, being able to watch their feet, because if they start to move towards the edge and notice it, they'll move back out, and things like that, so watching people's feet in front of me is the greatest assett I have, and without them, it's a lot more of kind of trusting myself to know where I'm supposed to go." 

Her freshman year of high school, Michaela had to have corrective surgery on her eyes.

 "It was the first time in my life I felt really different. And it was the first time that I had to acknowledge that I was different, and I always wanted to be so independent, and I finally had to acknowledge that I might need a little help!" 

Michaela understands she will miss out on certain things, like, driving a car, but her positivity is unwavering.

"I told my mom when I turned sixteen, it was really exciting for everybody else, but when I turned sixteen I told my mom, I can't wait to turn seventeen. Because when you're sixteen everybody is talking about getting their cars and everybody's getting new cars and getting their license and taking their test, and it's exciting. And I wish that i could feel that excitement that people feel, and I didn't get that opportunity, but I always told my mom when I turned sixteen, I can't wait to be seventeen so this is all over and there's something else new and exciting!" 

A few years back, Michaela had the opportunity to meet charlotte brown, a blind pole vaulter, at the state meet.

"being able to see people like that, and to be inspired by people like that,  gives me hope that i can inspire people to do the same things that i do. And it was just an awesome experience. Me and chloe both got to meet her, and she was impacted her just as much as me, which shows me that everybody can feel the impact that just one small person has on a whole lot of people." 

"You step on the track, you step on the cross country course and nothing else matters at all, not a single thing. It doesn't matter that I'm visually impaired or that my legs aren't as long as the other person's, the only thing that matters is yourself and the clock, and i think being able to have that feeling and that rush is something you can't get from anything else." 

"There were obvious times when things got a little harder. There were races that coach griffin took me to where i spent a little more time walking the course because it was a little darker in areas, or a little muddier or a little more uneven, and i think those were times i could have easily given up and said i didn't want to do it anymore, but I'm glad that I didn't. Because the relationships that I've built with people like coach Griffin and Audrey and Chloe and the rest of the team, is something i would have missed out on had i quit. And I'm so glad that i didn't. It brought me and my sister Morgan closer, it brought my mom, she loves to come to the track meets and cheer for me, so those experiences that i gained because of cross country and because of track. So I think I'm proud of myself for that. That even when it got hard...I didn't quit."

With your sports spotlight, Ruthie Polinsky, KFDX 3 sports

Michaela is continuing to run in college. She's signed with Lubbock Christian's cross country program.

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