A legally blind high school student who won the Alabama state wrestling title. offered an inspiring message after his win.
Jay Spencer amazed his peers after winning the title this year as both the first title winner from John Paul II High School and the first legally blind student ever to take the top spot in the state, AL.com reported.
Even school coach James Dowd was skeptical that the nearly blind student could succeed in the sport. “I always thought it was a hard thing for him to do,” Dowd said.
But then Dowd started paying more attention.
“He proved me wrong wrestling against him,” Dowd told the media. “As his coach, I’ve seen his work ethic. He’s made it work. It is a touch sport. It’s right in his wheelhouse. You don’t have to see to wrestle.”
The 17-year-old student was diagnosed at age three with Leber congenital amaurosis 10, a degenerative retinal disease, and can only see clearly out of the corner of his left eye.
His vision problems did not prevent Spencer from excelling at his chosen sport. After qualifying for three consecutive AHSAA state tournaments, Spencer won his state title.
“Out of all the sports I’ve tried, this is probably the least challenging to pick up because wrestling is a feel sport,” Spencer said. “I was able to pick up on that rather quickly.
But Spencer also has a very inspiring message for everyone.
“Don’t let what anyone thinks about you change how you think. As long as you believe you can do something, then you can,” he said.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.