CHRIS AHREN'S BLOG

From: Chris AhrensSoccer

Not only do I get to live out my boyhood dream of competing in sports at its highest level, I get to travel the world and represent my country, and I get to call myself a Paralympian. When not participating in team activities, I am an Adapted Physical Education teacher in the San Diego Unified School District.

I have been a part of the Paralympic Soccer Team for six years now and it has provided me with more than I could have ever imagined.  Not only do I get to live out my boyhood dream of competing in sports at its highest level, I get to travel the world and represent my country, and I get to call myself a Paralympian. 

Despite all of this, it takes a real commitment to be a Paralympic athlete.  While sponsorships in disability sports are growing, the majority of Paralympic athletes, including all of my soccer teammates and me, do not get paid to do this. Paralympians compete for different reasons, but it has to come from within -- becoming rich and famous is not what happens to your typical athlete! 

When not participating in team activities, I am an Adapted Physical Education teacher in the San Diego Unified School District.  This means that I teach physical education to students who happen to have disabilities or just overall gross motor delays.  Some of the disabilities that my students have are Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Spina Bifida, and Down Syndrome.  I cover eight elementary schools for the district, and my students range in age from 3 years old to 12 years old. 

I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but when you combine it with my training schedule, it makes me one busy person!   

Balancing being a good teacher and training as hard as one should for the Paralympics can be difficult, and it requires good time management.  On a typical day I will work a full day teaching classes, then train with a local club team, run on my own, or lift weights on my own or with a personal trainer.  I usually leave my house at around 7 am and don’t return home on some nights until 7:30 or 8:00 o’clock at night.  On top of all the training it is important, too, that I eat right and get enough sleep in order to keep myself healthy and able to work hard towards my goals.

The Paralympics includes athletes with a variety of disabilities and differing abilities, but they all train as hard as their able-bodied Olympic counterparts while also balancing a full-time life.  So, the next time you meet a Paralympian, you should think to yourself about how hard this athlete has worked to get to where he or she is -- even though they may not be raking in the big bucks while doing it!

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